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Beyond the Call

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryaunte Perkins
  • 186th Air Refueling Wing
Service members often possess skills and talents that prove to be true blessings in disguise. Key Field Air National Guard Base is proud to house individuals with skill sets and talents beyond the ones they’ve gained from the military. There are carpenters, singers, graphic designers, and all sorts of creative minds serving in the midst of Key Field’s ranks.
Tech. Sgt. John Rhoden, a functional assistant manager with the 186th Logistics Readiness Squadron, is one of those members. Rhoden serves on the base honor guard team playing “Taps” to honor fallen service members locally and throughout the state of Mississippi.
In 1976, Rhoden began playing the trumpet in the marching band at Maddox Junior High in Laurel, Mississippi and continued to play throughout high school and college. He currently plays in his church orchestra where he is training a member to play the bugle. In 1990, while working for the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy, Rhoden received a request to play “Taps” during a memorial service honoring a retired World War II veteran. Following several more requests, Rhoden purchased a bugle and learned to play “Taps” on it to give audiences the most traditional feel.
After learning that Key Field used mechanical devices and recordings to play “Taps” during burial services, Rhoden volunteered for the Honor Guard to serve as the bugle player.
“I just felt like fallen military should have something more real to honor their lives and service,” Rhoden explained.
Rhoden has since been asked to play several services and volunteers to travel across the state at his own expense to participate in ceremonies honoring service members and veterans. To date, he’s been the bugle player for at least a dozen burial services.
“I will continue to play as long as I’m able, no matter the distance. It is not about notoriety, but about honoring those who sacrificed and served their country,” said Rhoden.
This example of selflessness and respect for tradition is an inspiration and reminds us that the talents we possess can provide so much joy and meaning to those around us, especially during times of sadness and despair. The 186th Air Refueling Wing fosters an environment where members can use their talents to extend beyond the call of duty.
“Taps”, the official bugle call, is played at burial and memorial ceremonies to accompany the lowering of the flag and to signal the “lights out” command at the end of a day. Its melancholy notes remind us to respect our fallen service members and honor military traditions.