Grissom holds first combat dining-in in over a decade

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ben Mota
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing

With an arsenal of water infused hand grenades and locked-and-loaded squirt guns, in hands of men and women with uniform combinations from the last century, Airmen had an opportunity to witness a unique tradition and heritage that hadn’t been practiced at Grissom in over a decade.

More than 200 Airmen from the 434th Air Refueling Wing came together for a combat dining in here Aug. 4 to witness and partake in a unique Air Force tradition.

“The main goal of this event was for our Airmen to have fun,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “Our Airmen do a great job keeping the wing mission-ready and part of that readiness is accomplished through cohesion and camaraderie we share with each other. That cohesion and comradery is built and strengthened through traditions such as this.”

Echoing Shaw’s sentiment was guest speaker Maj. Gen. Ken Lewis, Air Force Reserve Command director of air space and information operations.

While each Airmen joins the Air Force for a different reason, those who stay often find that they do so for the same reason, said Lewis.

“Where else can you work with people that are dedicated to the business of protecting our nation? That’s why we love the military is because of the people,” he said. “I think you are sitting by the best heroes, the best patriots, the best Americans in this country, and let it be heard today and every day that this is the best country that has ever existed in the history of this world. And you guys are defending it. Be proud of that, very proud of that, because it is worth defending.
“Enjoy this day and think about what it means for what you’re doing,” he added. “This today is all about camaraderie, this today is all about enjoying each other’s company and understanding why you are here.”

Kicking off the festivities, Lewis and Shaw partook in the tradition of charging the grog, which entailed filling two toilet bowls with a mixture of drinks consumed by those who broke the unique rules of the event. The grog is the last part of an obstacle course Airmen went through when rules were broken and participants were called out by their peers.

“Trying to find ways around all the rules and watching people go through the obstacle course was one of the best parts of the event for me; I couldn’t stop laughing,” said Staff Sgt. Ami Malone, 434th Security Forces Squadron security response team leader. “I met so many people that I don’t normally work with.”

Grissom is home to nearly 2,000 Airman stretched over 1,200 acres often making it difficult to interact with people outside individual units.
“Interacting with leadership from all over the base was really nice,” said Malone. “We need events like this because it helps build relations and bonds like we already have in our units but with people from all around the base. I really had a good time.”

Since the last combat dining in at Grissom in 2007, the wing has participated in every major contingency around the world.

“You represent the freedoms of this country, and you guys are the people who are guarding those freedoms,” said Lewis. “You’re reservists, but when you look around you’ll see people who believe in what you do.

“This is what you are protecting, the rights of all people to think and do as they please under the rule of law, and you guys are doing an awesome job at protecting it,” he added.

Following the key message from leadership, Airmen participated in traditional festivities that included toasts to the colors and president, singing of the Air Force song and National Anthem, and a dinner. The combat dining in is a tradition in all branches of the U.S. Armed services dating back to old English monasteries, said Tech Sgt. Daniel Huff, 434th Force Support Squadron readiness technician, who also served as a host and coordinator for the event.

“We wanted to test the waters to see what worked and what didn’t in an attempt to make this a reoccurring event,” said Huff. “Our goal is to build on this event, encourage attendees to spread the word and make it even larger next time,” he added.