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Playing Taps earns college trumpeter TDCJ Honor Guard membership

Jason Robb receiving certificate from honor guards
Members of the Region I Honor Guard and Correctional Training Department Director Michael Upshaw, at far right, showed up at band practice in November to make Sam Houston State University senior Jason Robb an honorary member of the agency’s ceremonial corps.

Photo by David Nunnelee

Sam Houston State University senior Jason Robb plays the trumpet masterfully, but he isn’t one to blow his own horn. That’s why the university band drum major was “blown away” when representatives from TDCJ’s Correctional Training Department showed up at band practice recently. They made him an honorary member of the agency’s Honor Guard for his willingness to perform at the Fallen Officers Memorial Service in Huntsville last May on extremely short notice.

“I’m kind of surprised, really,” said Robb, a 21-year-old music education major from Dallas. “I didn’t really think that much of it at the time.”

Tom Pierce, curriculum director for the TDCJ Correctional Training Department and one of the organizers of last year’s memorial ceremony, explained that Robb’s recognition came about by accident. Pierce said the Region IV Honor Guard trumpeter who had been scheduled to play Taps was delayed after being involved in a minor wreck just 30 minutes before the program was to begin.

“He called me and said he couldn’t make it, so I didn’t have a trumpeter,” Pierce said.

With no time to spare, Pierce got on the horn in search of a last-minute replacement. He first called the Huntsville High School band director, but was told the band was out of town on a field trip.

“He had no trumpeter, and he’s a percussionist,” Pierce said.

But the band director told Pierce about Robb, who was then tutoring students on the trumpet at Huntsville High.

“I called Jason, and within 15 minutes, he was dressed in a suit at the site with his horn warming up in the parking lot,” Pierce said.

Robb marched with the replacement Honor Guard members to begin the ceremony and then solitarily played Taps to perfection.

“He pretty much helped us save that very important part of the program,” Pierce said.
Correctional Training Department Director Michael Upshaw recently presented Robb with a citation signed by Correctional Institutions Division Director Nathaniel Quarterman in appreciation of his assistance to the agency. Three uniformed members of the Region I Honor Guard then handed him a framed certificate signifying his honorary status within their ranks.

“It just seemed like something that was really important,” Robb said about the urgent call for help he received. “It was about people who were serving our country, and I wanted to help them out. I think anyone would have done what I did.”

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