News>Enlisted members let loose at Combat Dining In
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas— Members of the Joint Service Color Guard kickoff the ceremonies at the Joint Enlisted Combat Dining In by presenting the Colors June 18. More than 300 servicemembers from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps attended the annual event, which took place at the 312th Training Squadron High Bay. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jessica Keith)
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas— Chief Master Sgt. Brendan Criswell, 17th Training Wing Command Chief, opens up the dinner line at the Joint Enlisted Combat Dining In June 18. The formal dinner was catered by a local restaurant, which served a wide variety of food to more than 300 servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jessica Keith)
by Airman 1st Class Jessica Keith
17th Training Wing Public Affairs
6/21/2011 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- Enlisted servicemembers let loose during the 11th annual Joint Enlisted Combat Dining In here June 17.
More than 300 permanent party servicemembers, from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines gathered at the 312th Training Squadron High Bay to celebrate military heritage and pay homage to Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.
They also took the opportunity to engage in mock combat, drenching one another in cold water with a variety of water guns and water balloons after the ceremonies were completed.
Chief Master Sgt Brendan Criswell, 17th Training Wing Command Chief, described the event as a way for military members to have fun and commemorate military heritage at the same time.
"We wanted the dining in to be a chance for the enlisted services to have a good time, learn about military history and give respect to those servicemembers who are POW/MIA or who are currently deployed," said Chief Criswell.
Dining Ins have been a part of the American military from the very beginning. According to usmilitary.about.com, the British brought the tradition to America during colonial times and Gen. George Washington borrowed it for the Continental Army. Dining Ins have been a part of American military culture ever since, and are filled with traditions.
Each branch has its own version of a formal dinner. In the Navy and Air Force, it's the Dining In. The Army holds the Regimental Dinner and the Marine Corps and Coast Guard have Mess Night. Each one has its own traditions and celebrates military heritage in a slightly different way.
There are two types of Dining Ins. One is the traditional Dining In, a very formal event in which military members wear semi-formal uniforms and adhere to strict protocol. The second is the Combat Dining In, which has become increasingly popular. It is built around the format of a traditional Dining In but there is less formality and combat uniforms are required.
One tradition of a Joint Dining In is to have the youngest military member present sit at the head table with the senior representatives of each service. This year, it was Airman First Class Kelsie Harrington, 17th Training Wing Staff.
"Getting called to the head table was a surprise," Airman Harrington said. "At first I was intimidated because this was my first Dining In and I didn't know what to expect. Once I relaxed though, it was a lot of fun. I got to talk to some of our senior enlisted and hear what they had to say."
Airman Harrington, who turned 19 three days after the event, also said she learned a lot about military traditions.
"It wasn't like anything I expected," she added. "I learned that a Dining In is really about camaraderie. Everyone seemed to have a really good time and throughout the night there was a sense of unity."
Staff Sgt. Ashley Ishmon, a paralegal with the 17th Judge Advocate General's Office, agreed.
"My overall experience was very rewarding," Sergeant Ishmon said. "I had the opportunity to interact with individuals from across the base that I wouldn't normally get to see. There was a feeling of kinship, not only among the Air Force, but also among the other branches. This was an experience I won't forget."