Bugle Award presented to ROTC cadet at Florida Tech


MOAACC President Dan Smith, left, Florida Tech cadet Luke Mullins, retired Maj. Gen. John Dreska and John Stafford, a Florida Tech ROTC instructor, gathered to honor the late Maj. Gen. John Cleland.

Marilyn Sanford

Almost 70 years ago, during the Korean War, a young Army Infantry officer, John Cleland, heard numerous bugle calls prior to an attack on his position by Chinese forces.

As the Chinese deployed for the attack, the bugle calls increased. During the attack, the bugle calls were at their loudest.

If and when the attack was held off, the bugle calls decreased. After one attack by Chinese forces was turned back, Cleland found a bugle during a sweep of the area.

Cleland was curious as to why the Chinese used so many bugle calls. What he learned was that, due to a shortage of radios, the Chinese used bugle calls to direct their forces to move into different formations.

An example was going from marching to an attack formation.

Maj. Gen. John Cleland enlisted at the age of 17 and, after service as an enlisted man, attended the Infantry Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He commanded all levels of infantry units from the rifle squad to the mechanized infantry division.

Cleland also fought as a parachute infantry unit commander in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He was a commander, staff officer, a service school instructor, State Department officer, overseas military advisory group chief and director of U.S. Army Security Assistance during his military service.

The late Cleland is a member of the U.S. Army Infantry Hall of Fame. He received two Purple Heart awards, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star Medal and the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, among others. He was a master parachutist and was awarded the combat infantry badge on three occasions. The bridge being built over the Florida East Coast railroad on the Pineda Causeway is named the Major General John Cleland Memorial Bridge in his honor.

Cleland gave the bugle to the Florida Tech ROTC department in 1994 to inspire cadets in their training to become Army officers. Today, the bugle hangs on the wall in the ROTC Military Science Building on the FIT campus. The Bugle Award is presented to a cadet recognized for leadership qualities including “personal example, infectious enthusiasm, and encouragement of others.”

The name of each year’s trophy recipient is etched into the plaque below the bugle. For 22 years from 1994 to 2016, Cleland presented the award at an FIT ROTC award ceremony, where he recounted the story of the Chinese attack and bugle calls. He died in October 2017.

This year, the 25th Bugle Award was presented to Cadet Luke Mullins by retired Maj. Gen. John Dreska. Mullins was cited by his ROTC instructors for exhibiting the leadership traits represented by the bugle.