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Al McGrew

First, we must understand that I have little knowledge of the history of buglers, though "Taps" was indeed one of my favorite calls. My really favorite call was "Tattoo".  

How I became "H" Btry's bugler is a dandy! Peacetime Corregidor was a delightful place. Unfortunately, a Colonel often crawled out from under a rock and demanded that we train on those tasks we were appointed to. My friend, Spence Bever, of "A" Btry, 60th, a searchlight battery, visited me at my barracks often. Usually we opted to catch the trolley down to Bottomside and hoof it to the enlisted men's beach for the afternoon. This time he awarded me with a big grin and said, "Guess what!".

I didn't bite, so he revealed to me his big secret!

"I am now a bugler!"

I asked him how he accomplished that.   "Easy! Our bugler is going back to the States and I asked for the job. Now, before you ask me a bunch of stupid questions, listen to this! You turn in yer '06, and they give you a Colt .45cal Automatic. Every morning when the battery goes out to practice, the Drum and Bugle Corps wanders down to the 'Hollow'."

"Where's the 'Hollow'?" I managed.

"Down just in front of our barracks," he said.

"Then what?" I says.

"You just pick out a root anywhere, sit down, and you blow yer bugle, or beat on yer drum!"

I walked away, shaking my head.

The next day at lunch, who sat down across from me, but Eddie Kobrinsky, "H" Btry's Bugler. I ask Eddie about his ability with the bugle. He wanted to know why I was asking. I told him I was thinking of striking for his job when he departed the island. He says, "I am departing the island!" He told me he was headed for R. & R. in Baguio at the end of the week. I requested that I fill the coming opening with the 1st Sgt. He informed me that if no one had applied, the job was mine.

Obviously, no one had applied! I received my shiny bugle from Eddie, with two mouth pieces! Thus I become "H" Btry bugler.

al19.jpg (8034 bytes)

Al, aged 19

I soon became adept as I practiced the calls, over and over again. Finally I was prepared to blow the calls when "H" Btry was called to stand guard. My first experience was at Topside.  Armed with my bugle, and my .45, I joined the men assigned for duty at Topside. It is a memory I shall never forget. Eddie Kobrinsky told me to prepare myself before each call by jamming my handkerchief into the bugle, deadening the sound, and yet working my lip up blowing the call into the hanky. It worked incredibly well! Later, another bugler taught me to double-tongue, and that really got attention!

The feeling was intense as I strode out to the long megaphone, pivot the megaphone to the north on a line parallel to the front of Topside Barracks and insert the bell of the bugle just inside the small end of the megaphone and blow the call. Swing the megaphone 180 degrees and repeat the call. That is how it all started for me.

We moved to the field Nov. 28th, 1941 and prepared for war. Capt. Starr told me to forget the bugle. (I had left it on my bed in Middleside Barracks) Capt. Starr instructed me to find Cpl. Layton for orders. Cpl.   Layton was in charge of the machine gun section. His first order was for me to build a machine gun pit in front of Btry. Ramsey's No.1 gun, a 6" Disappearing gun. The bugle had been phased from my musical career. I would now be a machine gunner, and a back-up tracker on the height finder.

Al McGrew



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