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News > Commentary - Wing dining out: History, heritage, tradition, legacy vital to Air Force way of life
Wing dining out: History, heritage, tradition, legacy vital to Air Force way of life

Posted 4/25/2008   Updated 4/25/2008 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. Tammy Elliott
90th Space Wing command chief

4/25/2008 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Hopefully, you know by now that a 90th Space Wing dining- out takes place May 3.

You may be saying, "A dining what?" or even worse, "Why do I care?"

A Dining what?
A dining-in is a formal event for military organizations believed to have began in 16th-century England, in monasteries and universities. The British Army incorporated it during the 18th century, in the form of formal dining within the regimental mess. Rules of the mess were institutionalized as "the Queen's Regulations." The "mess night" or "dining in" became a tradition in all British regiments.

Our Army, Navy and Air Force refer to this event as a dining-in. The Marine Corps and Coast Guard call it mess night, while the Army sometimes calls it a regimental dinner. The Air Force dining-in probably began in the 1930s with General H. "Hap" Arnold's "wing dings." The close bonds enjoyed by 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.

A dining-in involves only the members of the unit. Our wing will use the option allowing guests, known as the dining-out. The dining-out follows the same basic rules of the dining-in, but is sometimes tailored for the civilian guests to encourage their involvement.

Why should you care?
If you wear a uniform, you are already part of a proud military tradition. But uniforms alone will not unite us or keep us united.

One of the many things that separate us from the civilian population is our rich heritage, some of which goes back centuries.

It's wise to remember if we don't look back, we will never move forward. If we don't honor our legacy then truly, we have reduced our noble profession to "a job." That's just not enough; accomplishing "a job" won't sustain our heritage or win wars.

To do the things we do, our actions must be based upon deep rooted beliefs; we must be connected by more than our job titles or service designation; we must be connected by spirit and heart. The day you joined the profession of arms, you picked up a thread running through the fiber of centuries of history.

That history provides a solid foundation holding us firmly through the frequent, if not obsessive changes presented by our nation and world. 

In a time of war and political unrest, we can't afford to "not look back." Our heritage is the glue holding us together when we are pulled in a thousand different directions. Join us in a tradition that not only honors Air Force history, but military tradition, legacy and heritage.

And by the way, the cool by-product of this particular tradition truly is esprit-de-corps, camaraderie, or in 21st century language, fun. See you at the grog.

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