Mess night, or dinning out, is one of the very events that are not a drill meet or the Annual Military Inspection that has every cadet in a stir. Males rush home to shine their shoes, put together their dress blues, and assemble their combo covers while females rush home to put on the night’s gown and do all the activities that they would do as if getting ready for homecoming. All cadets attending prepare to face what is coming on the night’s events: the parade of staff, the presentation of the colors, the charging of the grog bowl, dinner coupled with charges, toasts, a change of command, a speech by a guest speaker, and finally for the most anticipated part of the night, dancing.
This event took place at the Eagle Glen Golf Course where cadets attending were expected to arrive before the dinner bells rang at six o’clock. Before the start of the event, cadets were to greet fellow cadets and all guests of the mess, or face the later consequences. Once the dinner bells ring, everyone is to find their seats and remain standing for the Parade of staff, where staff members, instructors, school officials and their escorts line up to strut under a line of swords.The president of the mess, or the Commanding Officer of the NJROTC unit, orders Madam Vice, or the Executive Officer of the unit, to March on the Colors. Then, with a tap of the President’s mallet, all members of the mess may take their seats.
The First order of business: Parade the colors and charge the grog bowl. During the week prior to mess night, every platoon and the staff create a mixture of drinks to be poured into a large bowl centered on the dance floor. The mixture of drinks from every platoon creates the Grog. Usually the look and taste is revolting and this year was no different. The purpose of the grog is to become one of the consequences for breaking the rules of the mess. Usually even a small sip is dreadful!
Next is the parade of the beef, where cadets get to enjoy a small comedic moment, dinner, and fining. During the dinner, cadets get to “tell” on each other when they break the rules of the mess. Some rules include, but are not limited to: cursing, inappropriate conduct, uniform mess-ups, and every little thing that has happened through out the year. The penalty for being fined may result in a drink from the grog or a simple apology. This is one of the high lights of the night as it provides a great sum of entertainment and comedy. Freshman Tyler Fregeau states,
“My favorite part of mess night was the charging of other people. It was really funny to see people have to drink the gross grog and to see their faces after they drank it.”
Not just Fregeau feels this way. Sophomore Gloria Benitez thought, “I thought the charging was funny because when they had to drink the grog they would make a funny face. The grog tasted gross like vomit.”
Once the floor is closed for charging, the president opens the floor for toasts where cadets can give a toast. Like usual there were toasts to the different branches of the military, the instructors, the parents, the guests of the mess, and to the ladies and men of the mess.
Then comes the part where a few cadets were waiting for, the change of command and listening to the guest speaker. During this time the current Commanding Officer is relieved of her position and passes on the responsibility to the incoming Commanding Officer, usually the Executive officer. Just as practiced, Cadet Commander Jessica Quintero passed on her command to Cadet Lieutenant Commander Erin Brandt. Upon the reading of orders, Cadet Brandt was to assume position of Commanding officer that following Monday while Cadet Quintero assumed the position of Instructor’s Assistant/ Company Adviser. This year the night was honored by Marine and Devil Pups Instructor, Sergeant Salzlein. Her speech reached out to the cadets and encouraged them to keep going and work hard.
Finally, with the thankful words from the new president of the mess and the last prayer of the night, it was time for the cadets to get down with their bad selves! Here the cadets finish off the night by dancing the night away.
The popular opinion of the night was a good night. Sophomore Saiid Sanchez states, “It’s a fun event where someone could go and hang out with [their] friends or date, charge them for the funniest or stupidest reasons, and get to dance like crazy in front of them.” Senior Alan Arevalo says,
“Overall I have to say I’m proud of all the cadets who participated. This was one of the best mess nights in my for years in ROTC.”
By the end of the night, all the cadets had a great time, laughed together, teased each other, and danced together. Overall, Mess Night was a huge success.