Just wrote this one
to Mark, Carlos, Laura, Anita, Bill, Bill, Estelle, Dante, Robert, Hal, John, drew
I was a good bugler during Basic Training and again after the war had ended and I was chosen to record the bugle calls so they could be played over the camp loudspeakers. “Ta ta ka tat ta ta ka tat, tat ta ta kat tat, ta ta ka tat.” My jazzed up rendition of first call woke the whole camp up every morning. I memorized every call in the bugler’s manual and was ready to play any required call.
Once I saved face for the whole band and even the band leader was grateful to me.
The (pardon the tautology) “Idiot General” (I swear) got his jollies off by calling out the whole Division, including Artillery and all other dependent units and contemplating the vast sea of loving GI faces spread out before him at his beck and call. I could sense he felt himself a real general on these occasions. As a matter of fact, he was known for having been sent with some troops to Alaska, where they arrived in the middle of winter still dressed in summer tans from their stay in the tropics. His excuse was that the operation was so secret that furnishing winter uniforms would have tipped off the enemy, or some such silly excuse. This wasn’t something that would daunt a “real general” and we inherited him - fortunately after the war was over. I hate to think of our fate had he commanded us in battle.
I was third trumpet in the band, but my shady past as a bugler was known to the leader and to the first Sargeant, who happened to be first trumpet.
Our ecstatic general’s visions of grandeur had no limits. Now he decided he wanted all the officers at his feet, as in an old Regular Army ritual initiated by “Officer’s Call.” He directed the band leader to “Play Officer’s Call.”
Mr. Croteau, the Warrant Officer that led the band, quickly called for the First Sergeant to play “Officer’s Call.” He didn’t know it. After all, he was the band’s First sergeant, not a bugler. I bided my time, watching how they sweat under pressure and frustration. Sarge finally remembered he possessed a real honest to goodness bugler and turned to me. He inquired in desperation: “Valderrama, do you know Officer’s Call?” I figured it was time for some fun, so I appeared to consider the question for a few moments before answering that “yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” Well play it! Play it! Both the band leader and the First Sergeant desperately urged. I stepped forward and raised my instrument toward the sea of faces: Tat, ta ta kat tat, ta ta kat tat, tat ta ka tut, I played loud and clear till the whole call had resounded over the field, heard by everyone yet recognized by no one in this post war civilian Army. I was so pleased with my crisp clear rendition that I decided to observe the repeat sign that marks the end of all the bugle calls. Calmly I repeated: “Tat, ta ta kat tat, etc.” The whole division was rumbling in wonderment as to what action was called for. Somehow word got around and first one or two officers and then a little stream of them started walking to the front and gathering at the feet of the great one. Eventually all the officers had gathered where the general could address them directly. I lost interest in the proceedings after my thrilling intervention, so I have no recollection as to how the general derived his satisfaction from the proceedings or what further stunts he came up with.
There was a favorable (to me) repercussion to the incident. A few days later, during an inspection, an officer restricted the whole band to its barracks for the weekend because his white glove got dirty on the rafters. I wasn’t about to stay in camp for the whole weekend while my new wife waited for me in town so I hitch hiked into town. Who else was riding in the car but Mr. Croteau, the band leader. He did the decent thing and ignored me and the fact that I was technically going “AWOL” (Absent Without Leave) and could have been in a lot of trouble for having so blatantly ignored the restriction.
Robert Hilliard Aug 31
Ed, > > Another excellent vignette. It took me 50 years after the war to fina...
6 older messages
Edgar Valderrama Sep 15
not sure I sent this Yeah, more or less.
resending in case I didn't send.
I had radio training in Ft. Benning Ga. and if I hadn't broken my glasses I would have been sent to Fort Hood in Tx with my class for integration into a new division that never left the States because the War ended. I was left behind while my glasses were being replaced. That made me a loose replacement and I arrived as cannon fodder during the Battle of the Bulge. I've got a couple of stories written about my misadventures at the front and will try to write some more. I joined the band as third trumpet and became regimental bugler after playing "Officer's Call."
Click here to Reply or Forward