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Echo Taps Was a tradition at American military schools, such as Norwich University, The Citadel, NMMI or Texas A&M University, and is played when a member or former member of a school's Corps of Cadets is killed in action.
Army Regulation 220-90, Army Bands dated December 2007, Paragraph 2-5h(1) states the following: “Echo Taps” or “Silver Taps,” the practice of performing “Taps” with multiple buglers, is not authorized. “Echo Taps” is not a part of Army tradition and improperly uses bugler assets.
Army Regulation 600-25, Salutes, Honors, and Visits of Courtesy, dated September 2004, Glossary, Section 2 states the following: "Taps The traditional “lights out” musical composition played at military funerals and memorials. The official version of “Taps” is played by a single bugle. In accordance with AR 220–90, “Echo or Silver Taps,” which is performed by 2 buglers, is not authorized."
Field Manual 12-50, U.S. Army Bands, dated October 1999, Appendix A, Official And Ceremonial Music, Appendix A, Section 1 - Ceremonial Music, Paragraph A-35 "A-35. Signals that unauthorized lights are to be extinguished. This is the last call of the day. The call is also sounded at the completion of a military funeral ceremony. Taps is to be performed by a single bugler only. Performance of "Silver Taps" or "Echo Taps" is not consistent with Army traditions, and is an improper use of bugler assets.
At Norwich University, the ceremony is held on the Upper Parade Ground, where the Corps of Cadets forms up silently at 2245 (10:45) for tattoo, and then stand in silence until 2300 (11:00) when echo taps is played, at which time unit commanders will tacitly give the commands of attention and present arms. The Regimental Bugler stands either near the flagpole in front of Jackman Hall or on Jackman's balcony and plays the main tune of Taps. The echoing bugler will stand on the steps of Dewey Hall facing the Parade Ground and echo each series of notes. Following the playing of taps, the Corps of Cadets dismisses in silence.
At New Mexico Military Institute, Echo Taps is held on the Quadrangle (the 12-dorm complex that is used mainly by the Corps) at 10:00 the night they find out. For the ceremony the Corps falls out and forms up along the length of the quad, a bugler is posted at the megaphone on the south end and another is at the arches on the north end, cadets salute and the bugler on the south end plays the first 3 notes of Silver Taps the bugler on the north end echoes, the bugler on the south end plays the next 3 notes and is echoed for the rest of the song. Cadets then return to their dorms.
At Texas A&M University, Echo Taps (otherwise known as Silver taps) is played by three trumpets on a night designated by the alumni association. This ceremony is held at the Academic Plaza to remember all the alumni who had died of normal causes or KIA that year. This ceremony also includes the lighting and extinguishing of a candle for every alumni of the year. One bugler is posted at the North, South, and West side of the barracks and the candles at the East. After this early Taps, complete silence marks the rest of the night.