By C/1stLt Michael Pineda
On December 5th, Omaha Composite Squadron held their 7th annual Dining Out at Arbor Hall. Every year, cadets, seniors, families and friends are invited to the Dining Out: a formal military style dinner in place of the night’s meeting. A special guest is always invited to the dinner to give a speech; this year’s guest being the Senior Enlisted Leader of U.S. Strategic Command, Chief Master Sergeant Patrick McMahon. Among the other honored guests was the NE wing commander, Colonel Darrell Nelson.
Before dinner, various ceremonies took place. First was the presentation of the colors by the cadet color guard team. The color guard processed through the room in formation with the American flag and the squadron flag, setting the flags on either side of the honored guest’s table. Following the presentation of the colors were the national anthem and toasts. Afterwards came the POW-MIA Table Ceremony, which honors the United States’ prisoners of war and servicemen missing in action.
Finally came the presentation of Le Beouf, where the beef to be eaten that night was presented to Colonel Robert McCartney, President of the Mess, to confirm that it was fit for human consumption.
During the dinner, cadets were expected to follow the “Rules of the Mess,” found in their Dining Out Handbook. Many of the rules are old traditions; for example, males were required to rise from their seats when a female departed from or arrived at their table; no clapping was allowed; glasses must be kept half-full; and the Queen’s English was required to be strictly abided by. In the event that a rule was broken, any cadet could bring the rule-breaking to the attention of the Vice President of the Mess (also known as “Mr./Ms. Vice”), C/1stLt Nelson. If Ms. Vice found that the rule-breaking cadet had no excuse for breaking the rule, the cadet would be sent to “Mr. Grog” as “punishment.”
The Grog was located in the middle of the floor, resting on a table before the honored guests, and filled with an assortment of juices, sodas, and breakfast cereal. Also, Mr. Grog is a toilet. When sent to The Grog, cadets had to fill their cup to a designated fill line, raise the cup while toasting “to the mess,” and drink the whole contents without lifting the cup from their lips. Once finished, they would turn the cup upside-down over their head, and, if a drop fell on their head, would repeat the process again.
After dinner, the special guest, Chief Master Sergeant Patrick McMahon, gave a leadership-focused speech. After his speech, the awards ceremony began.
Various cadets and seniors were called up to the front of the room to receive awards. As always, there were some less serious awards, including an award to a cadet for running away as a model rocket flew toward his head, as well as an award for the cadet who launched the rocket. Afterwards, the squadron color guard retired the colors. Shortly after, the annual squadron video was premiered, showcasing all of the Squadron’s activities in 2016. The 75th anniversary Civil Air Patrol video was also played, since 2016 was also the 75th year of CAP’s operation. Finally, the cadets, seniors, families and friends were free to go, as the last meeting of the year came to a close.
This article was written and published by C/1stLt M. Pineda as part of the Staff Duty service requirement for his current achievement.