CSAF to host military tattoo on Bolling

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katherine Windish
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, U.S. Air Force chief of staff is hosting a military tattoo celebrating "50 Years of Friendship and Cooperation" between nations belonging to the System of Cooperation among American Air Forces 8:30 p.m. June 13 on the Air Force Ceremonial Lawn on Bolling Air Force Base, D.C.

The official tattoo is invitiation only. A dress rehearsal open to all Department of Defense identification cardholders is 8:30 p.m. June 12 on the Ceremonial Lawn featuring precision performances by some of Bolling's finest: the United States Air Force Honor Guard and Band.

"Thanks to all the hard work put into the tattoo from all 11th Wing units, I anticipate that this tattoo will be a truly remarkable event for all to enjoy," said Lt. Col. Michael Burk, 11th Operations Group deputy commander. "Although Sunday is a private event, all ID card holder's getting to come out Saturday is exciting. To be witness to this piece of tradition and heritage is a great experience. I encourage everyone who can to take part."

SICOFAA, established in 1964, is an organizational alliance of North, Central and South American Air Forces and includes 18 member nations.

The production at Bolling will incorporate the traditional ceremonial tattoo sequence of a formal presentation of command, ceremonial honors, feature segments, pass in review and closing. The feature segments include the Drill Team, drum solo, Max Impact and the new Honor Guard element, Air Strike.

The evening's narrator is Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Burns, United States Air Force Band, in a traditional vintage uniform. The tattoo will be narrated in Spanish and English to accommodate the official language of the organization.

A video segment will also be shown narrating the history and accomplishments of SICOFAA.

Max Impact and the Ceremonial Brass will play bi-lingual songs, accompanied by Air Strike's drill maneuvers.

A final narrative and the playing of Taps will conclude the ceremony.

Though tattoos are traditionally held every year at Bolling Air Force Base, this tattoo is the first of its kind celebrating the nations' alliance and is the official arrival ceremony for delegates arriving from the air forces.

Military tattoo's are rich with tradition, the playing of Taps signifying the conclusion of the event is one of many customs kept alive through the year's - even from before the Revolutionary War.

The tattoo itself is symbolic of a ceremony dating back more than 300 years to King William III's British Army serving in the Netherlands. The troops of King William's army were housed in the towns surrounding the battlefields, and according to historical officials, went to the local inns to spend the evenings. Drummers marching through the streets signaled the soldiers to leave the pubs and reminded the Dutch innkeepers it was time to stop selling beer.

In the language of that era, the soldiers would have said "doe den tap toe" meaning, "turn off the taps." It has since been shortened to "tattoo."

As the custom developed, the drums were joined by flutes and then other musical instruments. Eventually, full bands played for the whole garrison and the tradition of a military tattoo began.

"This year we've strived to properly represent the history of this great tradition while also showing our joint partners how far we've come through the years," said Colonel Burk. "It's always an honor to showcase the United States Air Force and our great capabilities."