My favorite time of year is December’s drill. This is because there is usually some kind of family event, drill is very relaxed, and there is a formal event like a dining-in or dining-out. After marrying my husband last year, I got to experience the ultimate dining-out at his unit! A dining-in and dining-out are similar, except at a dining-out, civilian guests (like spouses) are included; it takes place at a normal restaurant and has dancing. Here is an overview of the dining-in and why they are so great.
The dining-in is traditionally for the officers of the unit, however, in a majority of cases the entire unit participates in the event. It’s important to know that with a Dining In spouses DO NOT attend. It is reserved for members of the unit.
The reason that I love this time of year so much is because it is a huge tradition that we can still make the most of. I think the Army needs to keep as many traditions as possible, they instill pride and esprit de corps. The great part is that every unit has their own tradition and every dining-in differs just slightly from the others.
One person that makes or breaks the dining-in is the Mr. Vice. This should be somebody who has a great sense of humor and a quick wit. He or she will be doing majority of the talking throughout the event, and it is imperative that the right person is selected for this position!
The commander usually serves as the president of the mess, and is seated at the front along with guests of honor, chaplain and guest speaker. The dining-in begins with a receiving line, then the colors are posted. There will be opening remarks from the president and the guest of honor. Most units make a grog bowl, and the senior leadership in the unit will each have a hand at pouring a particular liquor or something like “sand from Iraq and Afghanistan”, or “a sock from the lowest ranking private’s foot”. Dinner must be sampled and ensured that it is fit to be consumed by the mess.
Toasts are done, and one must make sure their glass is always charged! Once the gavel drops after dinner and everyone is dismissed, usually people stay and continue to socialize and dance.
Final Thoughts: A dining-in is a great event to plan every year and they help keep Army traditions alive. If you’ve been to a Dining In before, I would love to learn about your story or experiences with it. Leave a comment to tell us all about it.