Personal Reflections by Bob Zarfoss
An open letter to all USAF Drum & Bugle Corps Alumni
Yesterday, my wife Pat and I, along with other USAF Drum & Bugle Corps Alumni attended Tru'sfuneral. Here's a brief summary of that event, a glorious day, a memorable day, a befitting end to a national treasure and our dear friend.
His ceremony was clearly a first class way to depart this world. The chapel was filled, packed, people standing around the sides, two or three deep. We had been given special seating by the Crawfords, and thus were in the second row, behind two four star generals, two retired generals, and their wives. There were Marines everywhere, the service was meaningful, there was a horse drawn caisson waiting outside to carry the casket to the grave site, a riderless horse, along with the Marine Drum Corps and Rifle Squad.
The service had dignity and creativity, almost as if Tru himself had planned it.
After the graveside services ended, with Tru's coffin resting not far from the front gate of Arlington and overlooking the Nation's Capital, most of us went to "8th and I" for a reception. Entering, Pat and I received a salute from a major and a welcome greeting. I returned the salute. I'm not sure if the salutes were out of respect to Tru, or because there were so many officers present and no one was taking chances, or because we looked old enough to be retired officers, or simply weren't acting like young airmen. They'd even closed off both sides of "I" street to allow parking. Surely, no stone was left unturned in making this event remarkable.
As I reflect upon yesterday, it was though a member of royalty had died. In a sense, Tru was royalty, at least in the drum corps world. He was the king of arrangers and instructors, and a prince of a man. Each of us, because we knew him and played with him and for him, can stand tall knowing that he was more than the sum of our parts, but he was always one with us.
The Marines videoed and photographed the entire proceeding. I'm sure Lucille had to be appreciative of their every effort, and will have great memories and even more respect for the Marines and for the manner which they treated him. Of course, none of that will ease her immediate pain, nor will it bring him back, but it was a magnificent end to a magnificent career.
In the evening, the Air Force Alumni in attendance went to dinner at the Grill at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, and ate a wonderful meal. We toasted Tru, and we drank to all the friendships which the USAF Drum Corps has fostered. It was relaxing dark, peaceful and quiet, and in perfect counterpoint to the day's activities.
I wish you'd all have been there, from chapel to grave to reception to dinner. In a sense, you were, at least in spirit and memory.