Retired Navy Captain Charlie Kropf made a simple enough request to his neighbor Paul Johnson if he would play Taps at sunset. It was 4th of the April and thus began the nightly tradition that continues in the Williamsburg Manor North neighborhood. Charlie Kropf is now in his late 80s.
According to the Mount Vernon Gazette, “Johnson didn’t hesitate to honor his friend’s request, but instead of a one-time performance, the 30-year Navy veteran has continued performing each night at sunset as neighbors gather in somber silence in memory of lives being lost each day to the COVID-19 virus. Said another neighbor, Deborah Matthews, “Paul plays Taps for people who die every day of COVID. I am grateful that he is a neighbor and gives us a place to gather every evening.” Johnson, who arranged for a substitute on the two occasions he was out of town, has no set date for ending the nightly tradition.”
Johnson, a retired Navy Master Chief and former member of the Navy band said, “I had stopped in to check on how Charlie was doing during the quarantine. When I first moved to the neighborhood in 1991 Charlie and another neighbor, Lou Genario, a retired Army colonel who has since passed on, asked me to come out and play morning colors while Lou put his flag out on his garage. We did that a couple of times but Charlie remembered and asked me again.”