Updated May 25, 2020 - 5:13 pm
Playing the trumpet has enabled Bob Altomondo to meet President John F. Kennedy, travel the world and, on Monday afternoon, entertain his neighbors and honor veterans.
Altomondo, 75, invited the Sun City Summerlin community to gather in front of his home on Ripon Drive on Memorial Day to listen to him play taps.
Altomondo said the trumpet has been a big part of his life. His dad wouldn’t let him get a paper route or a job at Dairy Queen when he was a kid growing up in Cleveland.
“I kept coming home and saying, ‘Dad, I got a job,’ and he kept responding, ‘No you’re not,’ ” Altomondo said. “He said, ‘Just practice the trumpet. That’s your job.’ ”
All those years of practice paid off when he auditioned for the U.S. Navy Band at 17. Altomondo said he used the opportunity to serve his country and travel the world.
He spent 18 months at boot camp in Washington, D.C., training with the band and playing at balls and galas and Arlington National Cemetery. He even met President John F. Kennedy at a ball the week before he was shot.
“I didn’t even know who JFK was, you know?” Altomondo said. “As he was walking over my friend said, ‘That’s the president.’ … I shook his hand, then a week later I was holding a flag in front of his house as a member of the honor guard while they drove his casket by.”
After training, he spent 18 months on a ship traveling around Asia, he said. Then he moved to California and worked a few different management jobs before moving to Las Vegas with his wife and kids.
Now, he’s known among Sun City Summerlin residents as “the computer guy” who plays the trumpet. He said he was asked by another resident why he wasn’t playing taps on Memorial Day, and he decided last-minute to organize the little event to honor those who served in “the real Navy” and other branches of the military.
A couple dozen residents drove up in cars and golf carts, parked along Altomondo’s street. They gathered around, socially distanced and clad in masks, to listen to him play.
After taps, Altomondo led the group in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Taps is a U.S. military bugle call played at funerals, wreath-laying ceremonies and memorial services, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As residents clamored for an encore, he played a lively rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” on his way down to the street to greet his friends.