What is an Air Force dining-in anyway?

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kerri Cole
  • 102nd Intelligence Wing Public Affairs
Formal military dinners are a tradition in all branches of the United States Armed services and represent the most formal aspects of Air Force social life. Many of our customs, traditions, and procedures are traceable to the earliest warriors. The dining-in is one such military tradition that has its roots in the shadows of antiquity. On November 2, 2013 the 102nd Intelligence Wing will host its first dining-in since 2000. Since the event will take place near Veteran's Day, the theme is "In Memory of Many, in Honor of All".

The dining-in is a formal dinner for solely the members of the wing, unit, or organization. Its attendees are referred to as "the Mess". It is an occasion to meet socially at a formal military function to enhance the spirit of the units, lighten the load of demanding day-to-day work, to give the commander an opportunity to meet socially with subordinates, and create an atmosphere of camaraderie.

The guest speaker will be former Senator Scott Brown. Colonel James LeFavor, 102nd Intelligence Wing vice commander, will lead as the President, and Capt. Matt F., 102nd Intelligence Group, will serve as the Vice.

In accordance with tradition and dining-in protocol, there is a strict, yet fun, set of guidelines that everyone in attendance should know about, known as the "Rules of the Mess".

For example, rule number one is "Thou shalt not be late". If a member violates this or any of the rules of the mess, they might be required to sing a song, tell a joke, or get sent to the grog bowl.

What is the grog bowl? The main interest at a dining-in is the grog bowl. Plenty of different liquid ingredients are added to the grog bowl, and ultimately, a less than appetizing drink is made. It may look unsavory, but it is not undrinkable. (Rules of the grog are listed at the end of this article)

General toasting procedures
  1. Stand and identify yourself
  2. Address the Vice by saying, "Mr. Vice, I would like to propose a toast". The Vice informs the President and receives approval.
  3. Everyone stands and the toast is given.
The first toasts should be worded in the following manner:

Toast proposal: "To the Commander-in-Chief"
Mess response: "To the President"

Toast proposal: "To the Chief of Staff, United States Air Force"
Mess Response: "To the Chief of Staff"

After the toast to the Chief of Staff, the appropriate mess response to toasts is "Hear, Hear". Once the Chief of Staff of the Air Force has been toasted, there should be a toast with water to all of our brothers- and-sisters-in-arms who have served our country. It is also customary to propose toasts to special guests after they have been introduced. During this procedure, members of the mess stand and the guests remain seated. Also, other toasts may be given in the form of a poem, verse, or in another creative fashion such as a skit.

Addressing the Mess

A member may want to raise a point of order or identify infractions to the Rules of the Mess. The proper way is as follows:
  1. Rise and state "Mr. Vice, a point of order"
  2. When recognized by the Vice, identify yourself and state your business.
  3. It is tradition to speak in rhyme when addressing the Mess. It is up to the President of the Mess whether you must speak in rhyme. However, if you do not, you may have to make a trip to grog bowl.
Rules of the grog
  1. Proceed to the grog bowl in a military fashion, squaring all corners.
  2. Salute the grog bowl.
  3. Fill shot glass with grog.
  4. Do an about face and toast the mess stating: "To the Mess".
  5. Drain the grog from the shot glass without removing it from the lips.
  6. Tip the shot glass upside down over one's head signifying it is empty.
  7. Do an about face, remove shot glass from head, salute the grog and return to your seat.
After the grog is completed, Airmen are encouraged to "grog" another Airman they know that may have made an infraction to the rules.
The full set of rules is determined by the President and will be published at a later date.

Join us on November 2, at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa at 5 p.m. Tickets go on sale August 24th, and can be purchased by the following Ticket sale reps:

Wing Group: Lt. Col. Lisa Ahaesy
MDG: Senior Master Sgt. Cindy Thomas
MSG: Master Sgts. Michael Dorsey and Stephen Tibbets
AOG: Chief Master Sgt. Carrie Lucas, Senior Master Sgt. Sharon Rich
IG: Master Sgts. Donald Kochka, John Conti, Katherine Dias, Regina Baker
CCG: Senior Master Sgt. Julie Santos, Master Sgts. Tracy Sylvia, Robert MacDonald

All attendees will receive a complimentary shot glass memento, and a copy of Senator Scott Brown's book titled Against All Odds.

Ticket Prices:
$30 E-1 to E-4
$35 E-5 / E-6 / Civilians**
$40 E-7 / E-8 / O-1 / O-2
$45 E-9 / O-3 / O-4
$50 O-5 and up

Dinner Menu:

Rolls and butter, Garden Salad with specialty dressing, Choice of Chicken Breast stuffed with Cranberry Sage stuffing or Prime Rib of Beef Au Jus, Seasonal vegetables, Chef's selection of potatoes or rice, Chocolate Cake, Tea and Coffee

Cocktail Hour: 1700 - 1800
Dinner: 1800 - 2200

Early release (1400 Sat) and delayed report time (0900 Sun) for all attendees

Uniform for Officers: Mess Dress
Enlisted: Mess Dress or Semi-Formal
Civilian employees: Formal

Discounted rooms are available at the Cape Codder Resort at $85 per night. Call (508) 771-3000.

Cape Codder Resort & Spa
1225 Iyannough Rd.
Hyannis, MA 02601

**Non dual-status civilian employees. This is a Dining-In (vs Dining-out) so no retirees, spouses or guests that are not current 102 IW/253 CCG members.