Taps Bugler: Jari Villanueva

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“ Welcome to Tapsbugler! Helping provide Taps for Veterans at military funerals is important to us! Please contact us on information about providing a live bugler to sound Taps at the ceremony for your loved one. Just click on Find A Bugler below. Please explore the website and I hope you come away with a little more knowledge about this great American treasure we have in those 24 notes. ”

Celebrate 150 Years of Taps


A 9-year old’s letter to a US Army Bugler in 1963

Keith Clark November 11, 1963

Keith Clark November 11, 1963

Keith Clark, US Army Band

Several days after the state funeral for President John F. Kennedy on November 25, 1963, a young boy named Eddie Hunter sat at a Royal typewriter and wrote a letter to Sergeant Keith Clark of the US Army Band. Clark had sounded Taps at the funeral ceremonies and his imperfect rendition of the call was still reverberating in the memories of millions of listeners. To many Americans, Clark had spoken to the nation’s sorrow—a “bugler’s tear,” it was called by some newspapers. Many had believed the flaw was intended, as in a “French Taps” or a “sanglot (sob)”. It was not. The missed 6th note of Clark’s Taps was due to the cold and the almost deafness he experienced from having the firing party fire the three volleys so close to his ear.

In the weeks that followed the funeral, many cards and letters were sent to Clark thanking him for the rendition and expressing their understanding for the missed note. One note in particular stated, “Hold your head high…In your one sad note, you told the world of our feelings.”

Eddie Hunter Age 9Eddie Hunter Age 9

Young Eddie Hunter from Plymouth, Ohio was a trumpet player in his elementary school band. In late November, 1963 he wrote Clark, “You played taps very nicely…. Anybody is bound to make a tiny mistake in front of millions opon (sic) millions of people. I did not notice it at first until they reran the picture. YOU SHOULD HERE (sic) SOME OF THE THINGS I PLAY.”

Eddie’s letter in November 1963

Writing letters was not something new to Eddie. He wrote many letters to personalities including the NASA astronauts who were the popular heroes of the day. He even received letters back, including a reply from John Glenn. Along with millions of Americans, he had watched the funeral proceedings on the family television. He recalled feeling bad about the missed note and decided to write Clark, even though he was not sure of the bugler’s name or address. Like most of the other letters written to Sergeant Clark in the wake of the funeral, Eddie’s letter was simply addressed to “The Bugler, Washington, DC.” And like all the other correspondence sent to Clark in the weeks following, it made it to the Army bugler, although it made a side trip through the US Marine Band where it was received on December 16, 1963.

Clark, like he did with almost every letter he received, wrote back to Eddie. Eddie was surprised when he received a reply from Clark, especially in light of not having the name of the bugler or even an address. Hunter says, “Today, I could have had a ton of information on the person within an hour after the event. I basically just sent a letter to ” a guy in Washington D.C.” and I believed I was likely the only person who did such a thing, so when the reply came I was just as amazed as surprised.” He thought he was the only one who wrote to Clark, not knowing there were dozens of letters sent from all over the country.

Clark wrote expressing his thanks and sorrow about the note and his”hope that all people will make every effort to live in a more Christian way” He hoped Eddie would practice and be a good musician in his school band and closed, “Your Friend, Keith Clark.”

photo 1

photo 2

Eddie responded with a follow-up letter, “The trumpet is not my specialty (yet) because I am only 10 years old and can only play easy songs with notes up to B#… I am practicing hard to be a fine musician like you.”

Eddie's letter in December 1963

After his initial correspondence with Clark, Eddie continued his trumpet studies, playing throughout his school years at Plymouth High School. He recalls playing for many Memorial Day observances in the local cemetery where he sounded echo Taps with a fellow student. He eventually gave up the trumpet while studying at Eastern Kentucky University

50 years later….

Ed Hunter, 2013

Eddie Hunter, now Edward Hunter, is a professional voiceover talent who does work for television, radio, corporate and product demonstrations.  Although Hunter decided to pursue a career in broadcasting he still stays in touch with his high school band director. He graduated from Plymouth High School in 1971, studied at Eastern Kentucky University, and graduated from the University of Toledo in 1976. He worked on air in radio for about 10 years and as a TV news Assignment Editor for 8 years. Currently a freelance advertising copywriter and voice actor, he does commercials, corporate video narrations and just finished narrating his second audiobook. He was married for 24 years to Debi Hunter, a high school English teacher. She passed away in September of 2002 from diabetes complications. A former private pilot and certified flight instructor, Ed currently resides in Toledo, Ohio.

50 years, the writer of a letter to an Army Bugler was reunited with his letters written as a young boy. On Saturday November 16th, 2013 Eddie Hunter traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to take part in the ceremonies marking the 50th Anniversary of the sounding of Taps at the funeral for President Kennedy. The commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery included a ceremony at the Old Amphitheater, a massed sounding of Taps by over 100 buglers from across the country, wreath ceremonies at the grave of Keith Clark and the Tomb of the Unknowns, and a showing of a special movie about the bugler’s statue in the Arlington Welcome Center.

Photos and movies from the event can be found BY CLICKING HERE
Thanks to Elizabeth Ann!

© 2013 Jari Villanueva www.Tapsbugler.com
No part of this article or photos may be reproduced without permission.

Leave a Reply

8 Responses to “THE LETTER”

  1. Tapsbugler says:


  2. Beverly Chang says:

    Taps will be played at my Dad’s (Alfred Chang) final aloha at the National Memorial Punchbowl Cemetery, Hawaii on August 31st, 2015. I remembered there were words to this and in my search I came across this site.

    What an awesome history! Then this intriguing letter from E Hunter and how just this moment in time which TAPS connected lives and who knows how many more.

    I know there are many more stories which the sounding of TAPS help us to remember the ultimate sacrifice for FREEDOM is costly. May we never forget or misuse that freedom that is God-given grace.

  3. I happened onto this website while in search for TAPS lyrics. Being curious [this Memorial Day 2015], I simply kept reading and found myself fascinated to learn so much more than I ever could have hoped for. Being patriotic, my heart was stirred to learn about little Eddie and Grown-up Edward Hunter and so much more. Born and raised in Chicago Illinois, now being 81 years young, I cheer you on by thanking you for keeping this website available for all who find you and can be blessed in what they learn.

  4. Tom Whitacre says:

    Eddie, as I called you in 1970 & 1971. Somehow my sister found this information & forwarded it to me for which I am grateful. I remember you as a young, talented person who could do what he set your mind to. You were the light man for the musical we produced “Lil’ Abner.” You were an easy going young fellow always with a smile & headed for a direction only you knew and from reading the above article, it was a very fine direction. So very sorry to hear of your wife’s passing. It seems you have developed & used many of your talents well since 1971 & I’m sure you will continue to share them with us in the years to come. It gladdens my heart to know that our paths crossed for even a short period of time & I can say, “I know that young man, he was such a fine person.” Great things come from even small towns.

  5. Kathy Kuyoth says:

    This is so cool Ed!, I was also 9 when JFK died and I remember it very well. Watching the funeral at home on our Black and White TV with rabbit ears. It was a very sad time in history and to know that someone that I know in Toledo had a connection with that event is so amazing and that he is invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary celebration of JFK’s death is such an honor. Way to go Ed, I know Jody and all of us at Re/Max Preferred are very proud of you!

  6. […] Be sure to view the special video in honor of this memorable event by professional voiceover actor Ed Hunter and Jari Villanueva – the foremost expert on Taps.  Ed Hunter was just 9 years old on that fateful day, and yet, he wrote to Keith Clark and said ““You played taps very nicely….”.  Taps for Veterans was able to find Ed Hunter and we are honored to be able to share his story HERE […]

  7. Ed Hunter says:

    Jim. Thanks for those kind words and for YOUR long service to the country. This all kind of blindsided me and it’s a bit overwhelming, but I’m glad my letter meant something to Sgt. Clark. – Ed

  8. Jim Ramsey says:

    Ed. I couldn’t be more proud to have a relative like you. I didn’t hear about this at the time. I was in Cyprus stationed with the American Embassy. Now I find out that another of the Hunters has made his mark. Congratulations and my profound thanks for your contribution to the country. Love Jim

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