Army Contracting Command will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a formal dining out at the Summit on Redstone Arsenal, Ala., Oct. 1.

All ACC and Expeditionary Contracting Command headquarters military, civilian and contractor staff members and their guests are invited to attend.

ACC was established on Oct. 1, 2008 at Fort Belvoir, Va., as a subordinate command of the Army Material Command.

According to Art Forster, ACC Public and Congressional Affairs director and
chairman of the dining out committee, the
event is based on the traditional military dining in which traces its roots back to ancient times. The dining out includes spouses and other guests from outside the military unit.

Dress for the evening is the Army Service Uniform with bow tie or Blue Mess for military attendees; dark business suit or tuxedo for men; and formal evening attire for women. Military retirees may wear their formal uniforms. Veterans attending the event are encouraged to wear their miniature medals on their civilian coat or tuxedo.

Guest speaker will be Gen. Dennis L. Via, AMC commanding general. Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, ACC commanding general, will serve as the host and President of the Mess. Entertainment will be provided by the AMC band.

Headquarters volunteers will host a series of fundraisers between now and October to help defray some of the event costs, Forster said.

"We want as many members of the workforce as possible to attend this special event. The dining out enhances unit esprit de corps and gives the commander an opportunity to meet socially with subordinates," he said. "It enables military and civilians to strengthen friendships and working relationships in an atmosphere of good cheer and fellowship."

The origin of the dining out can be traced to Roman times when military commanders would host banquets to honor military units and their warriors. These gatherings were often victory celebrations where past feats were recognized and treasures of recent conquests were paraded.

The dining in eventually spread to non-military groups, such as the Saxon nobles of the 10th century and medieval monasteries where the clergy spread the custom to academies and universities. The British officer corps, with many graduates at these centers of learning, carried the tradition back to military units. Americans, taking many of their traditions from the British, held formal mess dinners in the 18th and 19th centuries.

During World War II, the custom was revived in the U.S. military, initially in the U.S. Army Air Forces 8th Air Force based in Great Britain. There, the AAF officers were invited to participate in the Royal Air Force Mess Nights and then were obligated to reciprocate.

"ACC is continuing that tradition," Forster said, "and we're confident this will, indeed, be a memorable evening."

Formal invitations with additional information will be distributed soon.