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Airmen celebrate past, present, future at Vandenberg's Dining Out

Col. Benjamin Huff, 30th Mission Support Group commander, and Master Sgt. David Matos, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron, add apple cider to the grog bowl at the 30th Space Wing Dining Out here Oct. 20.

Col. Benjamin Huff, 30th Mission Support Group commander, and Master Sgt. David Matos, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron, add apple cider to the grog bowl at the 30th Space Wing Dining Out here Oct. 20.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- More than 350 people celebrated a "Journey of Excellence: Past, Present and Future" at the 30th Space Wing's dining out Oct. 20 at the Pacific Coast Club. 

Decorations from Vandenberg's early days as Camp Cooke and models of today's satellites and missile systems created a life-sized timeline for guests as they walked the long hallway and entered the PCC's main ballroom. 

Airmen, guests and Central Coast friends of Vandenberg were dressed in their finest to celebrate the event with great food, company and, of course, the infamous grog bowl. Col. Jack Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander, was the President of the Mess and host for the evening. 

A sword ceremony kicked off the dining out. A sheathed sword was brought to the president who removed it from its scabbard and placed it on the table symbolizing the dining out as a time when warriors lay down their weapons and enjoy the fellowship and camaraderie of their companions. A series of solemn toasts paid tribute to former leaders and those who are no longer living. 

Later the evening turned to less somber events including the grog, a military tradition that dates back more than 350 years. Although the name is always the same, its ingredients are as varied as the people who mix it; the more unappealing, the better. The usual practice is to mix the grog in a sanitized toilet bowl to be drunk by those who break the rules of the mess. The rules are also many and varied often ranging from improper wear of the uniform to laughing out of turn. 

"There's not a wrong reason to send someone to the grog. But if you do try to send someone, you usually end up going yourself," said Maj. Steve Carmical, 30th Mission Support Squadron commander. 

2nd Lt. Jon Miller, the event's Mr. Vice, demonstrated the procedures of the grog. Afterward Mr. Vice and his counterpart, Madam Vice Staff Sgt. Erin Panas, suggested a drink from the past, present and future to coincide with the evening's theme.
Mr. President agreed and was the representative for the "present." Chief Master Sgt. Tim Gordon, 30th Space Wing command chief, represented the past and Airman Calderon Hernandez, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron, represented the future. 

After the festivities of the grog and dinner, the group heard from Lt. Gen. C.R. Kehler, U.S. Strategic Command's deputy commander and former 30th Space Wing commander. The general offered food for thought on what truly makes one a hero. 

"Many people may name celebrities as heroes and even though there are some actors who have been tremendous in their roles, they are not heroes," General Kehler said. "Heroes are those who run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. Heroes are the Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Soldiers who fight in the deserts across the world day in and day out. Heroes are those sitting in this room, who wear this uniform...it makes me proud to be a part of the best Air and Space Force in the world." 

As the evening drew to a close, mess dress coats came off and the dance floor filled. 

"Observing military tradition is essential to building and maintaining camaraderie among our Airmen," said Colonel Weinstein. "The Dining Out was a tremendous success and an important event in helping us continue on our path of excellence. By celebrating Vandenberg's rich history, we highlight our commitment to mission success."