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.