Elmer Henry Hayes, 94, a Korean War veteran from Stratford, Wisconsin, died in his sleep last Saturday -- seven days after his birthday, according to his son.
After the story aired on ABC News, there was an outpouring of love and thanks from viewers from around the world, including the many band students at Stratford High School who Hayes had mentored. A scholarship has been established in Elmer's name through the school.
Hayes started playing the trumpet at 10 years old and displayed a natural talent that captured the eye of one of his high school teachers, who asked him to play taps at a military funeral.
"He needed somebody and I was playing in the band so I learned how to play taps ... just one of those things that happens," Hayes, then 90, told Wausau ABC affiliate WAOW.
After that, Hayes played the 24-note tribute during the funerals of fellow veterans and at Memorial Day services.
"Taps is part of the final musical part of what happens at a military funeral," he said. "It's the last thing that the family will hear."
"You think of what the piece is actually saying," he added. "It's this one long, beautiful piece and you try to play it as emotionally as you can. ... It has an effect on you."
In Hayes' later years, he made a name for himself in the polka scene and when he turned the tender age of 80, founded the Hayes Boys Orchestra.
The 94-year-old also had the opportunity to play in many old-time music bands, like Johnny Check's Concertina Orchestra and the Dick Rodgers Orchestra.
Out of his many achievements, serving as an honorary member of the Stratford VFW and a musical coach to countless high school students were two of his biggest, his son, Tom, told ABC News.
Due to pandemic gathering restrictions, there will be no funeral. A "Celebration of Life" will be planned at a later date.
Hayes is survived by his wife, three children, two granddaughters and his many nieces and nephews.
ABC News' Tom Llamas, Enjoli Francis and Susan Schwartz contributed to this report.
Korean War veteran leaves legacy of honoring fellow soldiers through his music originally appeared on abcnews.go.com