Reveille / Retreat

Reveille / Retreat

Air Force Protocol
from 'Til Wheels are Up'

"Reveille" was originally conducted as "Troop" in 1812 and was designed to muster the unit or for roll call and additionally to signal sentries to leave off night challenging. It was not originally intended specifically as honors for the flag. Today, reveille is conducted to honor the U.S. flag as it is raised in the morning. Honors (salute) during "Reveille" should be rendered similar to the procedure for "Retreat."

Your command may find it appropriate to conduct a Command Reveille or Command Retreat ceremony to help honor special days or events (Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, POW/MIA Day, Dec 7th, etc.) On these special days you may want to have a supporting ceremony complete with military formations, guest speaker(s), and chaplain or other appropriate participation. (Note that the flag should be displayed on all days, to include Federal holidays.)

The bugle call sounded at "Retreat" was first used in the French army and dates back to the Crusades. Retreat was sounded at sunset to notify sentries to start challenging until sunrise, and to tell the rank and file to got to their quarters. During the 18th century, command retreat was a daily occurrence, not to honor the flag but as a signal for units to call the roll as a final accounting before reveille the following morning. The ceremony remains as a tradition in today's military by marking the end of the military day and honors the flag as it is lowered. The bugle call "Retreat" precedes the flag ceremony. At the first sound of the bugle, face the flag, or sound of the bugle if the flag is not visible, and stand at parade rest. When you see the flag being lowered or hear the bugle call "To the Colors" or the national anthem, come to attention and render a salute. The salute is held until the flag is lowered or until the music ends. Civilians should stand at attention, facing the flag or music with their (right) hands over their hearts. Vehicles should stop during both reveille and retreat. Passengers should remain quietly seated.