Remembrances: Eugene W. Berkoff--Army Buglers

It was with interest I read Darrel Carnell's article "Remembrances" in the April 2000 issue of the Rolling W. I was particularly interested in his experience as a bugler in Luxembourg. But before I write about my experience in Luxembourg, let me describe an event, which occurred in Camp Butner.

As bugler in Camp Butner I was required to attend bugle school, which was held in the surrounding woods away from the populated camp area. The bugle school was held every morning. This was fine with me as it kept me from the various training exercises the other members of our outfit had to undergo some for the third or fourth time. At first, we buglers had an officer/instructor but the officer was later transferred out and we were leaderless except for one of the buglers who was a musician and played a trumpet. It was at his urging that we learned to play a jazzed up version of reveille. One morning as I, another bugler and the musician/bugler met to play reveille, we decided to play the jazzed up version. Afterwards I was ordered to report to battalion headquarters where I met my fellow buglers and we faced an officer who informed us that there was only one way bugle calls were to be played-- the way they were written and under no circumstances were they to be modified in any way.

I still had my ugly colored plastic bugle when we reached Luxembourg. As I recall, we turned in one of our duffel bags to be stored in a warehouse in a town (Mersch?) near where we were bivouacked. This was done just prior to our contact with the enemy. I, of course, put my bugle into the barracks bag thinking that a bugle was not much of a weapon and I had no desire to bring attention to myself in front of the Germans or even in front of our own guys by having to stand up and sound charge as I might be ordered to do by some gung-ho officer. The next morning after our barracks bags were stored away I got orders to report to battalion headquarters. There I was confronted by an officer (the same one who had chewed me out for playing a jazzed up version of reveille) who asked why he had not heard reveille. I explained that my bugle was in my barracks bag, which was stored in a warehouse in the nearby town. The officer then made arrangements for me to be driven to the warehouse where I was to find my barracks bag and return with the bugle. Oh, boy' He probably would be the one who would order me to stand up and sound charge!

I arrived at the warehouse and my spirits lifted as I entered the warehouse. It was a huge warehouse and the barracks bags inside were stacked to the ceiling. There were hundreds. . no! Thousands of them. I knew I would never find my duffel bag. Being the dutiful soldier I climbed up to the top of the bags nearest to me and there on top (oh no) was my barracks bag! As the bag was practically up against the ceiling it was awkward to open it to get the bugle so I carefully pushed it off the pile of other barracks bag and it fell to the hard concrete floor. I did hear a funny sound like plastic breaking but I paid no attention to that. Rather than climb down from the stacked barracks bag I jumped down and to soften my landing I landed on my barracks bag. Then I opened it and found the bugle in many small pieces. Back at headquarters I explained to the officer that the bag must have received improper and rough handling as the plastic bugle was in small pieces when I opened it and I presented the pieces of the bugle to him.