Commentary by Senior Airman Patrice Clarke
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
As a public affairs member, I have attended a variety of military events.
But I was wrong. I hadn’t been there or done that and I really hadn’t seen it all. There was one military event that out of my nine-year career I just had not seen. That event was the dining in. I had heard about this event; always that it was fun, but never what it was really about. Whispers of toilet bowls and water balloons were thrown about but no real information. Color me intrigued.
This year, I was in the right place at the right time and was able to attend the 2012 Schriever Dining In.
I wanted to know as much information about this event as possible. So, I did what any good reporter would do; I asked around. I guess that was my first mistake. No one would tell me any information. You would think I was trying to join fight club, not just find out information about a dining in. The only tidbit anyone would give me is just follow the rules; remember to follow the rules. I was starting to get really nervous. What had I gotten myself into?
From start to finish, the entire event was like no military dinner I had ever attended. The rules and tradition rang through from the sounding of the chimes to the banging of the gavel indicating the night had begun. When was the last time your dinner started with a gavel bang?
From there it moved on to toasts and the filling of the Grog Bowl. I was not prepared for this at all. Everything from dirty socks to pineapple juice to boots filled with “dirt,” was added to this “used” toilet bowl.
Every unit was able to contribute to this tasty concoction. You couldn’t just walk up and add the ingredient though, you had to add it with a rhyme. Actually everything you did that night had to be said with a rhyme. I didn’t think it was possible, but hats off to the Schriever Chiefs who were able to successfully rhyme Stafira.
According to the event program, the origin of the dining-in is not entirely clear. The Air Force dining-in custom probably began in the 1930s with Gen. H. “Hap” Arnold’s “wing-dings.” The close bonds enjoyed by the Air Corps officers and their British colleagues of the Royal Air Force during World War II surely added to the American involvement in the dining in custom.
The purpose of the dining-in is to bring a unit together in an atmosphere of camaraderie, good fellowship and social rapport. The basic idea is to enjoy yourself and the company.
Throughout the night, the feeling of camaraderie and good company was abound. From dining-in newbies like myself, to the seasoned veterans, everyone had a great time.