GALVESTON, Texas — Once a day, a lone bugler is often heard playing a melancholy tune in the middle of a Galveston intersection, a distinctive melody that is most often now used at military funerals.
Most people stop walking and listen. Others turn off their vehicles and patiently wait for the bugler to finish playing.
Clint Wayne Brown is a retired Galveston County Precinct 2 Constable, now working with Harris County Precinct 2. He’s a veteran after serving 22 years with the U.S. Navy.
He pulls his bugle case out of his car, then perches the case open on the trunk before piecing the instrument together.
“I try to do it almost every night, at sunset,” Brown said.
Rain or shine, Brown parks his car near the Rudy & Paco Restaurant and Bar in Galveston, walks over to the intersection, and stops all traffic.
He then positions himself and looks up at a balcony above the Stork Club, where an American and U.S. Marine Corps flag wave separately in the salty sea breeze.
Several videos now float around on social media, showing then Constable Brown stopping traffic in his patrol unit as people gathered, watching a war veteran play from his balcony.
And while some know the history between them, more recent posts on sites such as Facebook often have users asking, “Who are they?”
“There was a gentleman that owned this building behind us,” Brown said, pointing at the Stork Club, “he owned this building behind us, he lived upstairs.
His name was Guy Taylor, he was a Korean War vet, and he used to come out every night, at sunset, and play Taps,” Brown explained. “He just came out one night and just started playing because he had a friend of his that served overseas in Korea and didn’t make it back. He’d just decided that’s what he was going to do, is play Taps for his friend.”
Brown met Taylor by chance.
“When I was in office, I drove by one day and I saw people just driving by, walking, not stopping,” Brown said. “So it kind of bothered me a little bit, so I said, ‘Well what we’re going to do is get everyone on the street and just have everyone stop when he plays Taps.’ And so he agreed to it, we set out there,” Brown said.
“I stopped all the cars and we just started to salute him, as such, and everyone would stop their cars, and get out, put their hands across their hearts, and it was just an awesome thing to see people do it, and we just continued.”
It became a nightly ritual, something residents knew to expect. And soon, tourists would drop in to watch the performance.
Calls to the nearby restaurant would come streaming in, asking for reassurance that Taylor would be out there with Brown.
By the time Brown met Taylor seven years ago, Taylor had already been playing from atop his balcony since 2011.
Brown would continue to stop traffic for several more years — until Mr. Taylor could play no more.
“When I got my last set of orders from the Navy, I went to Washington D.C. as an executive driver, and [Taylor] was upstairs and he was already pretty sick,” Brown said. “And I was hoping to be able to see him when I got back, and he was so sick that I wasn’t able to see him. He had wanted to play taps just one more time, but there was just no way.
"And it was really hard for a lot of people. We just... We really lost a good one there.”
Taylor died in February 2017. He was 84 years old. Born in July of 1932, he joined the Marines in 1950 shortly after graduating high school in Manor, Texas.
After boot camp, Taylor was sent overseas to Korea where he served in the Korean War. Upon returning from completing his enlistment, Taylor relocated to the Houston-area, where he met his wife.
But as Brown said, Taylor was still and always would be proud of serving his country.
“He was … pure Marine, inside and out. Always Marine. And then he lived and breathed it. But just a fun guy, smart guy, hard worker, cared about his city and family. Cared about that Marine Corp, and anybody who served in the military. He was so honored to have them at his house, on the streets, he would never meet a stranger.
"If you served in the military, he would show the respects and come down to meet you and shake your hand, take pictures with you. An absolutely incredible individual.”
Brown points out that Taylor’s wife, Joan, still flies the U.S. Marine flag in Guy’s honor.
“No one has played Taps off that balcony since he has passed,” Brown said.
As the sun starts to descend, Brown is ready to keep his promise, a promise he made to Mr. Taylor before his passing.
“I told Mr. Taylor that we’d continue to [do this] as much as we can,” Brown said. “I try to do it almost every night at sunset here and over at the Olympic Grill on the other side, almost every night at sunset.”
Finally ready, with a crowd gathered and traffic at a standstill, Brown takes a breath and begins to play in tribute to Taylor, those who have served, and those who have paid the ultimate price and never came home.
As the bugle plays out the final notes, a moment of reflection and gratitude settles in for veterans like Clint Brown and Guy Taylor.
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