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This story has been corrected.

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A long-standing U.S. military tradition that seemed to have gone by the wayside at Ramstein Air Base has returned. This past Monday, the recorded audio notes of retreat could be heard at the end of the work day.

A tradition observed at many U.S. military bases worldwide, retreat signals the end of the official duty day and the lowering of the flag.

When the national anthem is played, military personnel in uniform are asked to face the direction of the music or the flag, stand at parade rest and salute, if outdoors; civilians should do the same but place hand over heart and remove any headgear, according to the Air Force. Motorists should come to a stop for the duration of retreat.

When and why the practice stopped at Ramstein, one of the largest U.S. bases overseas, isn’t known, base spokesman Juan Melendez said Thursday.

“We really don’t have the history on it, as to when they stopped doing retreat the regular way that you usually see on military bases,” he said.

“It’s going to be the new tradition now,” he said, noting that 86th Airlift Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Charles K. Hyde, directed that the daily retreat be revived.

Retreat, which includes the playing of the German and U.S. national anthems, now sounds Monday through Thursday at 5 p.m. over loudspeakers at Ramstein, and 4:30 p.m. on Fridays at a formal ceremony in front of wing headquarters, according to base officials.

Retreat will be observed at Air Force-owned installations in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, Melendez said.

At U.S. Army bases in Europe, retreat is usually done on the post with the garrison headquarters, said Dan Thompson, a spokesman for Installation Management Command-Europe. “On some installations the flags are flown 24/07 as they are lighted, but Reveille and retreat are still played and proper military courtesy is done,” he said in an email.

Some bases in Europe also observe Reveille, which usually is the sounding of the bugle to signify the start of a new day and that the flag is being raised.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

CorrectionThe original story included incorrect information on the protocol for saluting during retreat. It should have said personnel in uniform should stand at attention and salute.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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