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167th ANG bugler tapped to play at Byrd's memorial

July 26, 2010|By STAFF SGT. SHERREE GREBENSTEIN, 167th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
  • Senior Master Sgt. Ron Glazer, a bugler for the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing's Base Honor Guard, sounds taps July 2 at U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd's memorial service in Charleston, W.Va.
Submitted photo,

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Sr. Master Sgt. Ronald R. Glazer Sr. likes to come prepared.

So when the member of the 167th Airlift Wing's Base Honor Guard was getting his bags packed to fly to Charleston, W.Va., to take part in U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd's memorial service earlier this month, he grabbed his trusty bugle.

Glazer, a resident of Clear Spring, and Tech Sgt. William A. Stuller, who also served on Byrd's memorial service detail, are the 167th Airlift Wing's Base Honor Guard's buglers.

Byrd, a longtime proponent of the West Virginia National Guard, died June 28 at the age of 92. He was the nation's longest-serving U.S. senator and a longtime supporter of airmen and soldiers assigned to Guard units around the Mountain State.

With little notice, Glazer and seven other members of the Base Honor Guard flew down on Army Blackhawks.

"It was almost like a deployment," he said, referring to the task's tempo.

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"I took my bugle just in case," he added. "I didn't know if I was going to need it or not."

While en route to Yeager Airport, Glazer said Maj. Melissa G. Shade, chief of staff for the 167th Airlift Wing, advised him that he was specifically requested by the state's headquarters to play taps.

"I didn't know when because there was talk of multiple events," Glazer said.

The night before Byrd's memorial service at the Capitol's North Plaza -- attended by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other dignitaries -- Glazer was told he would play taps at the event, which would be televised live.

Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Goff, commander of the 249th West Virginia Army National Guard Band, took Glazer aside for a quick audition. On his silver-plated American Heritage Field trumpet, Glazer blew taps' 24 notes.

"I played it through twice for him," Glazer said.

"(Goff) said it should be the best," Glazer said of his rendition of taps. "Like I was playing at Arlington National Cemetery."

At 6 p.m. July 1, Glazer sent a text message to Tech Sgt. Ronda S. Mancine's Blackberry seeking support from his fellow wingman, with whom he works in the 167th Airlift Wing's Communications Flight.

The message read simply, "Sounding taps at ceremony tomorrow for Sen. Byrd. The news media will broadcast to the nation. Please pray I do well. No jokes. I need your prayer friend."

"You got it," Mancine texted back.

On Friday, Glazer was set to sound taps after the 21-gun salute was given, but he found himself faced with a dilemma and had to improvise -- quickly.

In front of him stood two high ranking officials rendering salutes during the firing of the volleys, which blocked his way.

"I did what I thought I should do," Glazer said of sidestepping his way around one of the officials to get in front so his playing of taps would not be obscured.

When the last of the volleys were fired, Glazer sounded taps.

"I wanted to make sure I hit every note," he said. "During the playing, I was numb."

After the 24th note was sounded, Glazer said he felt a sense of relief.

"I was happy that I didn't crack a note," he said.

Glazer said he didn't know how his performance went until hours later, when he saw it rebroadcast on C-SPAN.

"It was a true honor to have the opportunity to sound taps for one of the most influential senators of our time," he said.

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