Tattoo at the Taj….the Program

This is the “Taj.”  It is actually the 12th Flying Training Wing (FTW) Headquarters building at Randolph Field, TX.

Besides being the Headquarters, it is also the base water tower.  Clever, huh?  Anyway, it sits in the center of the airfield, with a traffic rotary right in front.

In 1986 we had a wing commander who thought it would be a great idea have a retreat ceremony once a month in front of the Taj.  The ceremony was modeled after “The Beating of Tattoo” retreat ceremonies often held in Great Britain, complete with a drill team, a marching band and various flybys with unit aircraft throughout the event.

The Tattoo ‘season’ was held on the third Thursday of the month between May and September of 1986 and 1987.  Each month a different group was ‘honored,’ or featured.  One month it was the civic leaders in the San Antonio area; another month it was our families and so on.

The festivities began around 1700 hrs with a reception at the Officer’s Club.  Then everyone was bussed to grandstands set around the traffic circle in front of the Taj.  After the welcoming remarks, the program began.

A drill team from Lackland AFB performed snappy precision marching maneuvers.  The Air Force Band performed patriotic music throughout the evening.  And there were the flybys at specific points.

First came the Stearman with the band playing “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.”

Then came four-ship flybys with T-37s,



and T-38s.  
The 4-ship of T-38s was timed to cross the field in full afterburner (AB) for the full effect of the noise and flames of our engines.  After our flyby came the closing remarks, followed by Taps played by a solo trumpet player.  Then came the lighting of the Taj with red, white and blue lights and a single T-38 climbing in full AB from behind the Taj.  Quite impressive!

After the ceremonies at the Taj everyone was bussed back to the O’Club for drinks and those cute little munchies.  Hell of a deal…


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2 Responses to Tattoo at the Taj….the Program

  1. Anna Skeens says:

    I actually performed at the Tattoo Ceremony during my time at Randolph. That would have been 1989-1993. We sang during the fly over. It was a great experience, but I can’t find any pictures from the time unfortunately. I think I still have the program from the ceremony somewhere. I want to say it was dark blue with a picture of the Taj on the cover. My last name was Henley at the time and I was assigned to the 12FTW and I worked at base ops. It was my job to get the flight plans into the computer for the pilots, do runway inspections and 101 other things related to Flight Ops 🙂

    • Steve Crum says:

      I took part in the original two years of Tattoo at the Taj as a member of the Randolph AFB Rifle Drill Team. During the second year, we wore replica uniforms from the cadets who trained at Randolph in the 1940’s. I would love to see video of that Tattoo ceremony. My name is Steve Crum and my email is

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