Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A New Dawn for "Reveille" at Ellsworth

With a single decision, Colonel Jeffrey Taliaferro created quite a tempest at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.

Earlier this month, Taliaferro, Commander of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth, ended the playing of "Reveille" each morning, saying there's "no compelling reason to keep it." Colonel Taliaferro said he eliminated the bugle call because of noise complaints.

And, to a some degree, Taliaferro had a point. At virtually all military installations (except for basic training facilities), the start of the duty day is no longer tied to that early-morning bugle call. Lots of airmen Ellsworth personnel were on the job before reveille played at 0630, local time. Other military personnel began their duty day at 0730, while most civilian workers arrived at 0800.

"There's nothing that said we had to play it," Taliaferro told the Rapid City Journal. "We weren't taking any actions based upon it. It didn't honor any specific segment and didn't honor the flag. It was the start of the duty day." The Colonel also thought base residents would appreciate the pre-dawn silence, no longer interrupted by reveille.

But Taliaferro was sadly mistaken. Some members of the Ellsworth community still take military traditions seriously, even if their wing commander doesn't like reveille.

In an effort to preserve the centuries-old custom, two military spouses (Janelle Rice and Holly Sweeney) launched a Facebook group, "I Want Reveille Back at Ellsworth AFB." The forum quickly attracted almost a thousand supporters--far more than the base's "official" Facebook page, which has less than 400 members.

Others found Taliaferro's "quest for quiet" to be a little bit silly. After all, the 28th Bomb Wing is equipped with the B-1 Lancer, considered by many to be the loudest aircraft in the Air Force inventory. With the bombers operating at various times of the day (and night) "there are no quiet hours at the base" a former Ellsworth airman told the Journal.

Colonel Taliaferro said he was stunned by reaction to the "no reveille" decision and quickly reversed course. Last Saturday, on his own Facebook page, the wing commander announced that the morning bugle call would return to Ellsworth, beginning this week. Reveille will now sound at 0730 at the South Dakota base, instead of 630.

To be sure, many Americans wouldn't understand a controversy over an early morning bugle call. But if you've never served (or been a military dependent), it's almost impossible to explain. It's part of our tradition and culture, and--thankfully--there are those who still appreciate that. Even a certain O-6 who needed a little refresher course.

7 comments:

Vigilis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vigilis said...

"...it's almost impossible to explain."

Exceptionally good material to share!

SMSgt Mac said...

Creeping Corporatism in the 'leadership' rank and file.
Thanks for the 'heads up'

TOF said...

I spent about thirteen years at Ellsworth in two tours of duty. First was from 1961-1968; second was from 1972-1979. No reveille was played, ever, during that time frame. Of course there were a few more important things going on beside following an old Army custom.

kitanis said...

Revellie was added to Ellsworth shortly after Colonel Joesph Brown took command from then Colonel James M. Kowalski in 2004. The other commanders kepted it in place,

In fact Colonel Jeffry Smith actually ignored noise complaints from the Box Elder, SD community when the volume of the giant voice boxes was raised when the Wing was getting ready for a ORI.

I was there from 2003-2007 before I retired out.

jayemarr said...

My father is a former MP and woke me up with that several times as a teenager, and I agree that for people who have not been subjected to it, it has a quality that is impossible to explain.

wjk said...

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Political Scientist, author, speaker, CEO for
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A CA Nonprofit Foundation
Email: InternetVoting@gmail.com