Robin Williams learned the meaning of ‘Retreat’ in an epic way [VIDEO]

Robin Williams was a fan favorite on his USO tours. The comedian had been popular for his portrayal of Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam in 1987. His self-deprecating humor and respect for the troops made him a natural. And, as the video below shows, his improvisational genius was ideal for doing stand-up comedy in a war zone, where anything can happen.

Right in the middle of his act, a bugle call cuts above the laughter. Everyone in the audience immediately stood and faced the opposite direction.

Williams, flustered, sees that the moment is significant and stops talking. He follows the lead of the people in front of him, even if he doesn’t appear to know exactly what’s happening.

There is a shuffling of hats on the soldiers in front of him, as the men and women tend to their uniforms. When the bugle shifts its tune again, and everyone salutes, Williams seems genuinely moved.

“It was ‘Retreat’,” Business Insider wrote, “a signal to those soldiers that the American flag was being taken down at the end of the day. At its sound the custom is to face the music, stand at attention, and salute. In this case, Williams is left onstage, watching thousands of soldiers turn away from him, and he has no idea why.”

“But in the video that was later released, we see the comedian, brilliant for his improvisational skills, realize that this moment is a special one. He is not a comedian. He is not a big-name celebrity. He is just some guy on a stage, and that music, and that flag coming down, is much more important.”

Even after the moment, Williams gives a polite pause before he picks up his act. “I’ve never had an entire audience just go, forget you!” Only then, the material this audience got was Williams at his best. What happened then was a shared moment. They were one, so to speak. Williams had connected with them in a way few would understand if they hadn’t seem him live.

Williams death left a huge hole in the USO lineup. He will forever be missed.