Celebrating history: Robins 2007 Military Tattoo brings Air Force past to life

The Band of the United States Air Force Reserve reenact the traditional Tattoo during a previous year's ceremony. U.S. Air Force file photo by Sue Sapp

The Band of the United States Air Force Reserve reenact the traditional Tattoo during a previous year's ceremony. U.S. Air Force file photo by Sue Sapp

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Robins is set to bring aviation history to life at its 2007 Tattoo Ceremony in Hangar 2328 March 21.

A morale-boosting event, the Robins Tattoo will feature numerous musical acts and other entertainment.

The military tradition of Tattoo stretches back to the 17th century, during the reign of King William III of Great Britain. English soldiers who served during a war in the Netherlands often spent their evenings in local taverns.

Each evening at the soldier's 10 p.m. curfew, drummers would march through the streets to signal soldiers to go home. It was also a signal to Dutch innkeepers to stop serving ale.

In their native language, the Dutch drummers would say, 'Doe den tap toe,' which meant, 'turn off the taps.' Often, intoxicated soldiers heard only the last two words, and soon adapted the Dutch phrase into their own language, turning 'tap toe' into 'tattoo.'
The Tattoo ceremony, most famously celebrated in Edinburgh, Scotland, since 1950, has been a part of Robins tradition since 1987.

This year's event, orchestrated by a mixed team of Robins military and civilians, brings together the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (the Old Guard) Fife and Drum Corps from Washington, D.C., which symbolizes our British and U.S. Army heritage and origins; the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve's Bagpipe Band, which symbolizes service in Europe; the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve's Ceremonial Band; and the Air Force Honor Guard drill team.

Robins' Tattoo will also include an F-15 fly-by and a POW/MIA (Prisoner of War/Missing in Action) ceremony, including a 21-gun salute and playing of "Echo Taps."
Static displays of C-5, C-17, C-130, F-4, F-15, the E-8C Joint Stars aircraft, and the KC-135 Stratotanker are expected to serve as the backdrop for the historical event.
Col. Robert Hopkins Jr., Robins' 2007 Tattoo chairperson, said this year's event will have a tri-focus.

"The reason we're having the military Tattoo is that we're here to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Air Force," he said. "With that, we want the traditions of a Tattoo that are linked back to Britain because that's where our heritage comes from, when the immigrants from Great Britain came to America before we transitioned to set up our country, the United States."

In addition, the ceremony will celebrate Georgia Aviation's 100 Years of Flight.
About 300 civic leaders and others from the local community will be invited to attend the 2007 Tattoo. The Tattoo committee expects nearly 900 people from the base community to attend the free event.

The committee aligned the event with the Macon Cherry Blossom Festival as a way to thank leaders in the local community who have supported Robins Air Force Base over the years.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Miles, the Tattoo's Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve liaison, said the committee's goal was to bring the Tattoo back to its Scottish roots.

"We're trying to get back to the more traditional definition of Tattoo, which is more ceremonial in nature, more musical performance-branded, and bring back that flare of Tattoo," he said.

Sergeant Miles said this year's Tattoo will not include skits, as it has in past Tattoo ceremonies at the base.

Capt. Brian Adkins, Robins 2007 Tattoo deputy chairperson, said the military tradition gives Robins a chance to recognize its base and local community.

"It's really to honor our history and to honor the base's relationship with the community and all the Air Force members who make it happen, including active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian."

Colonel Hopkins said he has an outstanding team to help make the event come to life.

"It's just a great team," he said. "They're all volunteers. They all wanted to work hard and we're seeing the results that will make this Tattoo ceremony an outstanding and memorable event."