National Tour Starts at Rocky Run MS

National Tour Starts at Rocky Run MS


Rocky Run Middle School students and Auston O'Neill in front of his Spirit of '45 RV.


Rocky Run Principal Anthony Terrell and History teacher Jamie Sawatzky present a poster to Auston O'Neill.


Rocky Run Middle School students watch as Auston O'Neill plays Taps.

— Auston O’Neill, Jr. a bugler with the “Bugler’s Across America” organization, kicked off a two-year national tour at Rocky Run Middle School on Friday, Feb. 7.

To be able to start this tour, O’Neill and his wife, Connie, had to sell their Centreville home. They then purchased an RV which they had decorated with information about him and the “Spirit of ‘45” program of which he is a member. Rocky Run was chosen as the site to kick off his tour because of the school’s involvement in the “Spirit of ‘45” program that works to keep the memory of the heroes who died during World War II.

Students and staff members carry a poster-sized picture of a fallen soldier, sailor or airman in the annual Memorial Day Parade in D.C. Rocky Run also hosts an annual tribute to World War II veterans with its “World War II Oral History Day.” This year marks the 14th year the school has put on this program in which more than 100 WW II veterans spend the day sharing their stories with Rocky Run’s 7th grade history students. This year’s WW II Day is scheduled for Friday, June 6, which is also the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy.

O’Neill became involved with “Bugler’s Across America” following his father’s death and burial. His father, a World War II veteran was not given the traditional “Taps” ceremony at his funeral and this inspired O’Neill to join “Bugler’s Across America” which performs at funerals and ceremonies all over the country.

Stops along their cross-country trip are planned at Bedford, Va. for a wreath-laying ceremony at the National D-Day Memorial; a performance of Taps in honor of the 66 Tuskegee Airmen who were killed in action; a media event at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, honoring Audie Murphy and Latino WW II veterans; a “Spirit of ‘45” media event in Phoenix, Ariz., and a media event at San Diego’s Balboa Park.

O’Neill will be returning to the D.C. area in May in time for the annual Memorial Day parade and is planning to attend Rocky Run’s World War II Day, where he will perform Taps as part of the opening ceremony to commemorate those veterans who have died. Before leaving Rocky Run, O’Neill received a poster-sized photo of last year’s WW II Day which was autographed by the entire 7th grade, Rocky Run bumper stickers, and coffee cups. He had a chance to address several classes of 7th and 8th graders and spoke of why he is taking on this trip and the importance to him and to the younger generation even in the middle of his radiation treatments for cancer.

Warren Hegg, national supervisor of the “Spirit of ‘45” introduced O’Neill, followed by a presentation from history teacher, Jamie Sawatzky, and students Ann Silva and Alex Hale.