Instead of attending an Air Force Ball on Sept. 18 for the Air Force's birthday, people stationed here spent the evening at the Base Operations and Training Area, covered in camo paint and ready for a fight when the time came.
However, when "alarm red" was sounded, people weren't scrambling for their gas masks or to find shelter. Instead, the alarm sent participants scrambling to their seats, so as to not upset the mess president, Col. Patrick Higby, 75th Air Base Wing commander.
"I think the combat dining out went well, everything came together like it should have," said Senior Master Sgt. Jon Vela, 388th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics flight chief and the dining out coordinator. "Approximately 320 people purchased tickets to come and about 280 showed up."
Typically, this type of event is called a dining in, which is open only to personnel assigned to the unit. Vela said leadership wanted to open the event up to the base's entire community, so spouses and friends could see a portion of Air Force heritage and tradition they wouldn't otherwise be privy to, making it a dining out.
During the event, anyone who violated rules of the mess, such as clapping their hands, rather than pounding their fists on the table, or toasting with an empty glass, had to run an obstacle course, getting soaked along the way. At the end, they had to drink from a "leaded" or "unleaded" grog bowl, which contained some sort of alcoholic and nonalcoholic concoction respectively.
"Everyone left talking about how good the dining out was," Vela said. "Everyone from the mess president down to the youngest Airmen who had never been to an event like this seemed like they enjoyed themselves."