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Rules of Reveille and Retreat

Anyone who has spent time on a military installation knows that if its morning or late afternoon and trumpets blast through the speakers, traffic stops and salutes are smartly snapped in the direction of the flag.

But, not everyone seems to know what to do when the music plays. Hopefully the Q&A below will help clear things up a bit.

Do I need to stop and salute during Reveille?

No. According to Air Force Instruction 34-1201, because Tinker’s flags are flown 24/7 and “To The Color” is not played, there is no need to stop or salute during Reveille.

What about during Retreat?

Because the national anthem is played, everyone needs to stop and pay the proper respect to the flag. According to AFI 34-1201 “The playing of ‘To The Color,’ the national anthem or the raising or lowering of the flag is what requires proper honors to be displayed to the flag.”

Retreat and the national anthem are played daily at 5 p.m., even as a civilian or in civilian clothes, you should stop and face the flag or the music if walking and stop your vehicle safely if you are still in your vehicle.

What do I do when Retreat is played?

Whether in uniform or not in uniform: At the first sounds of Retreat, stop where you are and turn to face the flag, or in a case where the flag is not visible, turn in the general direction of the flag or the sound and, if in uniform, stand at parade rest. If not in uniform, protocol still dictates that you stop and face the flag or the music out of respect.

When do I come to attention and salute the flag?

In uniform: When the Retreat music concludes, come to attention and render a salute when you hear the first note of the national anthem.

Not in uniform: Do not salute if you are not in uniform. Come to attention and place your right hand over your heart. Remove your hat with the right hand and hold it at the left shoulder while your right hand is over the heart.

Exception: AFI 34-1201 states that members of the Armed Forces and veterans who not in uniform may render a salute during the hoisting, lowering or passing of the flag and during the national anthem.

How long do I hold my salute?

Remain at attention saluting the flag until the national anthem has finished playing.

What if I'm wearing my physical training uniform?

Proper military customs and courtesies apply while wearing the PTU during Retreat (attention and saluting)

What do I do if I'm driving at the time of Retreat?

At the first note of Retreat and the national anthem, you should bring your moving vehicle safely to a complete stop as you would if an emergency vehicle were approaching and put the car in park. Base guidance is that personnel turn off any music playing in the vehicle. Everyone inside the vehicle, including the driver, should remain seated at attention.