By Lt. Col. Maria D. Schneider, Expeditionary Contracting CommandApril 11, 2011
It was a time of tradition and fun as members of the Expeditionary Contracting Command held its first Dining-In March 24, in Huntsville, Ala.
The evening's event was hosted by Brig. Gen. Joe Bass, ECC commanding general. Bass also served as the president of the mess. Soldiers representing each of ECC's brigades and battalion were present, formally attired to partake and celebrate in this momentous occasion.
A formal occasion, the head table included: Bryan Samson, ECC deputy commander; Command Sgt. Maj. John L. Murray, ECC command sergeant major; Brig. Gen. Stephen B. Leisenring, Mission and Installation Contracting Command commanding general; Jeff Parsons, Army Contracting Command executive director and Command Sgt. Maj. Tony Baker, ACC command sergeant major.
"It was great to bring the leadership together and provide them with the opportunity to continue an Army tradition that some Soldiers never get to experience," said Murray. "Some people think it is all about drinking and the "grog bowl", it is more than that, it is the camaraderie among the attendees, which is hard to capture in a virtual organization such as ours."
A formal dinner function for members of a military organization or unit, the traditional gathering provided an occasion for Soldiers and their guests to gather in an atmosphere of camaraderie, good fellowship, fun and social rapport.
The Dining In custom can be traced to an old Viking tradition of celebrating victorious battles and collective feats of heroism with a formal feasting ceremony. Years later, the tradition found its way into British military units. World Wars I and II brought the American and British military close together and exposed U.S. officers to this ancient ritual. Seeing the benefits for the units, American units adopted it and today cadets, officers and noncommissioned officers in the American Army regularly hold Dining-Ins.
A Dining In, like most formal events, are little fun as you prepare for them- setting up the uniform, etc.," said Lt. Col. Dennis McGowan, 905th Contingency Contracting Brigade commander, Fort Bragg, N.C.. "Once you are there, and among fellow Warriors enjoining time honored traditions and camaraderie, they are a blast. The last dining in I was at was with a Ranger unit and it was, as one can imagine, intense. The ACC Dining-In was a little more subdued, a little kinder and gentler, but lots of fun."
"A military Dining In seems to have two personalities," said Col. William Sanders, 410th Contracting support Brigade commander, Fort Same Houston, Texas. "There is the formal/military environment that permeates all facets of the function. This facet focuses on remembering our past and celebration of the future. Then there is the humorous camaraderie building vignettes that focus on the "grog bowl" and local customs and traditions from our deployed locations. The ECC Dining In was the best one I have ever attended. It was well thought out and rehearsed and truly brought us closer together as an ECC family."
The evening's event culminated with Bass presenting Parsons, the evening's honored guest, with the Expeditionary Contracting Command Contingency Contracting Award, a direct reflection to the support Parsons has provided to the contracting corps. Designated as an honorary member to the corps his medallion was registered as 01, representing the first member to receive the award.