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Trumpet Corps

by: Tyler Graf NOTE WORTHY — Cameron and Joshua Wheeler, of Scappoose, decided that recorded performances of “Taps” during memorial services didn’t do enough to respect military and police service. They have since taken it upon themselves to volunteer their skills as trumpeters and buglers at local memorial services.

When Cameron and Joshua Wheeler discovered through a family friend that the famous military bugle melody 'Taps' was rarely played live at veterans' funerals - but rather pantomimed, using a prop trumpet and recording - one thing crossed their minds.

Those other guys are faking it.

The Scappoose brothers, both trumpet players, thought maybe they should give it a shot and donate their time to playing the simple-yet-hummable tune at the funerals of local veterans.

No more faking it, they say. Not as a way of remembering.

'I felt really bad because I thought it would be really cool if someone could actually do it live [locally],' Cameron says.

Cameron and Joshua think of it as providing a small gesture to veterans who sacrificed for their country. After all, their grandfather served in Vietnam, and their great grandfather served in the Pacific theater of World War II.

They still have his tattered, leather bomber's jacket as a reminder.

The two trumpeters aren't simply relegating themselves to playing at the funeral services of military veterans. They're willing to step in and blow 'Taps'' solemn and sometimes squeaky C-major notes whenever they feel they're needed, as they did during the funeral procession of Rainier Chief of Police Ralph Painter in January.

The brothers are a year apart - Cameron, 13, attends Scappoose Middle School, while Joshua, 12, attends Petersen Elementary School - but they stay in tune in a way that would make twins envious.

In some cases, that means finishing each other's sentences.

'It was our first time ever,' Joshua begins, illustrating the scene from Painter's funeral procession through Scappoose, before Cameron, without missing a beat, finishes, 'playing this in public.'

They were struck by the reception they received that day: The way the near-dead silence was interrupted by the song, and the way the other mourners who lined the street near Petersen Elementary School responded admiringly.

The way a Scappoose police officer told them afterward he was touched.

They hope to keep that goodwill going, and they may get more opportunities to do so in the future.

Though playing a recorded version of 'Taps' instead of a live rendition is a common practice, many families - those in the know - request that a bugler play it live, says Joe Pyle, the county's veterans services coordinator.

'I couldn't [even say] how many we've had who requested that,' he adds.

So now, for his part, Pyle says he'll keep the boys in mind any time a veteran's family requests the song.