1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
1 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 William Solmo, an automotive maintenance warrant officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, checks the temperature of a beef roast while preparing for the 69th Infantry Regiment’s annual Makin Dinner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
2 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 William Solmo, an automotive maintenance warrant officer, and Sgt. 1st Class Saul Pineda-Vega, a platoon sergeant, both assigned to 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, cook sausages on a grill while preparing for the 69th Infantry Regiment’s annual Makin Dinner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
3 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, watch a video of Lt. Col. Kenneth “Scooter” Barclay, in which he recounts his experiences during the World War II Battle of Makin, during the 69th Infantry Regiment’s annual Makin Dinner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
4 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Saul Pineda-Vega, a platoon sergeant assigned to 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, cooks sausages on a grill while preparing for the 69th Infantry Regiment’s annual Makin Dinner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
5 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Spencer, 42nd Infantry Division commander, addresses members of 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, during the regiment’s annual Makin Diner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
6 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. David Piwowarski, the senior enlisted leader for the New York Army National Guard, holds a plaque he recently received during the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment’s annual Makin Diner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
7 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. David Piwowarski, the senior enlisted leader for the New York Army National Guard, embraces Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Zeller, the senior enlisted leader of 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, during the regiment’s annual Makin Diner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
8 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michel Natali, the assistant adjutant general for the State of New York, addresses members of 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, during the regiment’s annual Makin Diner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
9 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, the commander of 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, addresses members of the battalion during the regiment’s annual Makin Diner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
10 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Zeller, the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment’s senior enlisted leader, addresses members of the battalion during the unit’s annual Makin Dinner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
11 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Spencer, right, and Command Sgt. Maj. Corey Cush, left, the commander and senior enlisted leader of the 42nd Infantry Division, present a plaque to Maj. Gen. Jami Shawley and U. S. Marine Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Kammer, the commander and senior enlisted leader of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, during the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment’s annual Makin Diner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, commemorates the Battle of Makin Island while deployed overseas to the Horn of Africa
12 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. David Piwowarski, the senior enlisted leader for the New York Army National Guard, receives an Irish harp pin from Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Zeller, the senior enlisted leader of 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, during the regiment’s annual Makin Diner, Nov. 26, 2022. The unit, which is currently deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, held the event overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Each November Soldiers and veterans of the regiment assemble for the dinner which commemorates the World War II Battle of Makin Island. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector) VIEW ORIGINAL

New York Army National Guard Soldiers of the1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment marked the 79 anniversary of the regiment's World War II capture of Makin Atoll with a barbecue at their deployed location at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, on November 26.

The annual Makin Dinner honors the brave legacy of the regiment and is one of many traditions associated with the historic unit. During World War II, the 69th Infantry was federalized and reflagged as the 165th Infantry Regimental Combat Team. Assigned to the 27th Division of the New York National Guard, the 165th fought throughout the war in the Pacific theater at Makin, Saipan, and Okinawa. the capture of Makin took place on Nov. 23 and 24, 1943.

The anniversary dinner is normally held at the battalion's historic Manhattan armory. This year’s event was unique since the battalion is currently deployed 7,000 miles from home in East Africa.

With Soldiers stationed in Djibouti, Kenya, and Somalia, the battalion, augmented with elements from 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry, and 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, is currently assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF – HOA).

Maj. Gen. Jami Shawley, the CJTF – HOA commander, and Brig. Gen. Stephen Case, the CJTF – HOA deputy commander, attended the dinner as distinguished guests.

Also in attendance were Maj. Gen. Michel Natali, the assistant adjutant general, Army, for the New York National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Thomas Spencer, commander of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division.

Despite the distance and the logistical challenges that come with being deployed to a combat zone, the unit held the event as usual, albeit with a few changes. Noticeably absent from the ceremony were friends, families, and members of the regiment’s veterans corps.

“This year, our Makin Dinner has changed,” said Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment commander. “Instead of roasting one another and enjoying the company of our previous generations of combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, we are here, now, in the Horn of Africa, creating the next generation of veterans.”

The menu of the annual Makin dinner, which is almost as important as the dinner itself, consisted of beefsteak and bread, pork chops, sausage, and meatballs. The menu was a recreation of what the unit’s Soldiers ate on the eve of the battle in 1943. The traditional dessert, a piece of apple pie topped with a slice of American cheese, wasn’t available so far from home.

Another tradition associated with the dinner is mixing the regimental cocktail. Made with one part Irish whiskey and two to three parts champagne, the regimental cocktail traces its origins back to the Civil War. Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher, commander of the Irish Brigade at the time, liked to drink whiskey mixed with Vichy water. At Fredericksburg the general dispatched a Soldier to get the effervescent mineral water. Unable to find the water, the Soldier returned with a bottle of champagne. Meagher mixed the two and the regimental cocktail was born.

This year, both the whiskey and the champagne were absent. A symbolic regimental cocktail, consisting of Perrier sparkling water and non-alcoholic sparkling-wine, was mixed by Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Zeller, the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment’s senior enlisted leader, and other senior noncommissioned officers from across the battalion.

After the cocktail was mixed, First Sergeants from across the formation led the assembly in toasting the President of the United States, the Governor of the State of New York, the New York Adjutant General, the New York Army National Guard, 42nd Infantry Division, 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and the 69th Regiment.

Attendees watched a recorded interview of Lt. Col. Kenneth “Scooter” Barclay, a WWII member of the unit, recounting his experience during the battle. Barclay, a member of the 69th Veterans Corps, passed away in July 2021.

“We remain rooted in our history,” Tabankin said. “These events, unique to the 69th, whether it be Makin Dinner, the St Patrick’s Day parade, the Commander’s Reception, or the Logan-Duffy match… it’s important for us to make best efforts to continue these traditions, even when deployed.”

While the evening honored the unit’s legacy, the dinner ended with a view toward the future.

“I look forward to sharing many future Makin Day dinners with you,” Tabankin said. “I look forward to the time when some of our toughest moments, or biggest mistakes, eventually transition to some of the funniest stories for us, as old men and women, to tell back home in our Lexington Ave. armory.”

The more than 1,100 New York Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa are slated to return to the U.S. in the spring of 2023.