Military News

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rendering courtesy and honors to the FLAG

by Staff report
JBER Public Affairs

5/22/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Why did those Airmen stop on the way out of the gym? Why is traffic backing up? Is that a Soldier standing outside his vehicle?

Customs and courtesies during the daily sounding of reveille and retreat differ slightly between the Air Force and Army on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The music, played through the installation's mass-notification system, signifies the raising and lowering of the national colors.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Garry Berry, 673d Air Base Wing command chief, and Command Sgt. Maj. Eugene Moses, 673d ABW sergeant major, the differences pertain mainly to rendering honors when driving a vehicle and in the numerous bugle calls encountered on the former Army side of the installation.

"For the Air Force, normal retreat protocol, if you are outside in uniform, including physical fitness uniforms, you should face the flag or the direction of the music if the flag is not visible, and render the proper honors: stand at attention and salute," Berry said.

"If you are not in uniform you would stand at attention, face the flag or the music, place your hand over your heart or you can just stand at attention.
"Civilians should basically act the same as military members not in uniform."

According to Air Force instruction 34-1201, if the flag is being raised or lowered, all outside sporting or physical training activities will stop during reveille and retreat, and proper honors shown to the flag.

The playing of "To The Colors" or the national anthem while raising or lowering of the flag requires proper honors to be displayed to the flag.

All U.S. flags on JBER-Elmendorf, including those at the 3rd Wing headquarters, the POW/MIA monument, and the Yukla 27 memorial, are illuminated 24/7 and are never lowered except in cases of severe weather.

Because U.S. flags are not raised each morning, reveille is simply a bugle call signifying the start of the official duty day and vehicles are not required to stop.

Retreat is sounded at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All personnel are expected to render the proper courtesies outlined in the preceding paragraph.

"If you're exercising in the Buckner Gym, Elmendorf Fitness Center or Hangar 5 fitness facilities you do not have to stop working out unless there is a ceremony taking place in the facility," Moses said. "However, everyone should always be mindful of their surroundings and practice appropriate customs and courtesies while working out."

Berry also addressed the appropriate honors when driving a vehicle on JBER-Elmendorf.

"If you are in a vehicle, then you stop the vehicle, normally pulling off the road completely, and sit quietly in the vehicle," he explained. All too often, he said, motorists will ignore the signal.

Moses said vehicle procedures on JBER-Richardson differ in accordance with Army Regulation 600-25, "Salutes, Honors, and Visits of Courtesy."

During reveille and retreat, he said moving vehicles will stop. Military passengers will dismount and render the proper courtesies. Drivers will remain in the parked vehicle. When in buses and trucks, only the senior occupant will dismount and render courtesies.

"It's important to understand there is a difference," Moses said of the two sides of JBER. "You are expected to perform in accordance with your respective service requirements."

But that is not to be confused with retreat, which signals the end of the official duty day and a time to render honors to our nation's flag.

There are other major differences on the JBER-Richardson side.

Moses said the garrison flag at Pershing Field is not illuminated.  It is raised and lowered by U.S. Army Alaska to perpetuate Army customs at JBER-Richardson.

Reveille and retreat are accompanied by a cannon salute fired from a World War II-era 75-millimeter pack howitzer using 10-gauge shotgun shells.

The Army senior noncommissioned officer said although both sides of the installation play reveille at the beginning of the day, JBER-Richardson plays retreat and to the colors at the end of the day, while JBER-Elmendorf plays retreat and "The Star Spangled Banner."

Yet another difference, which may catch Air Force personnel off guard when visiting JBER-Richardson, is the series of bugle calls spread throughout the day.

According to Moses, the mass notification system is used to play scheduled music, which includes everything from reveille in the morning and taps to tattoo in the evening hours.

"Retreat is sounded at 5 p.m.," Berry said.

"It doesn't matter which side of the installation you are on, all personnel are expected to render proper respect to the colors."

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