Don't retreat from retreat

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michelle Vickers
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
For many day-shift Airmen, 5 p.m. falls right around the end of the duty day, and it's also the time retreat sounds on Hurlburt Field.

While it may be tempting to wait inside until it passes or duck indoors, it's a brief ceremony that pays respect to the American flag.

"Step outside your building, even if the music has already started, and pay respect to the flag," said Tech. Sgt. Ross Kael, Hurlburt Field Honor Guard NCO in charge.

Service in the base honor guard gave some Airmen a unique perspective on the importance of paying respect to the flag.

"Retreat to me means paying respect, at the end of each day, to the people who fought for us," said Senior Airman James Posey Jr., Hurlburt Field honor guardsmen. "By serving in honor guard, you definitely gain a greater respect for the flag and all of the ceremonies. When you hand a flag to a family member [during a funeral], you see the impact it makes on them."

At Hurlburt Field, the honor guard trains each group that performs the weekly retreat ceremony at the wing headquarters' flagpole.

"It was neat to see the Airmen who came out [to training]," Posey said. "Every time it got better, and I liked that I could improve upon it."

Any civilian or Airman on base during retreat can take the time to honor the tradition.

The proper protocol for retreat is as follows:
  • When driving a vehicle, drivers must come to a complete stop and put the vehicle in park. Military passengers should sit at the position of attention and civilians should sit quietly.
  • While in any uniform combination outside of a formation, on the first note of "To the Colors" Airmen must face the flag and come to parade rest. When Airmen hear "The Star-Spangled Banner," they will assume the position of attention and salute until the final note. Civilians are requested to face the flag. If the flag is not visible, face the music.
  • When not in uniform, when the "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays, Airmen will remove their hat (if necessary) and place their right hand over their heart.
  • While in formation, Airmen must follow the commands of the officer in charge.
Signs mark the retreat hold lines at each base gate to alert drivers if they should stop during the ceremony.

"The retreat ceremony is an important military tradition that's carried out by all branches of service at every base or post," Kael said. "Most importantly, the retreat ceremony is a remembrance of the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country."

Although it may seem like an inconvenience, use the few minutes of retreat to reflect upon the important work of Airmen and other service members.