University of Vermont

Dining In Celebrates Traditions and Creates New Ones

LTC Palaza swears Earl into the Green Mountain Battalion.

Each year the Green Mountain Battalion celebrates no one thing in particular at the Dining In Ceremony, an Army tradition that has been passed down throughout many decades to build esprit de corps and unit pride. This esteemed event is always a favorite of the cadets as they are able to let loose a little bit and see the cadre do the same after a few too many glasses of “grog”. It is both a celebration of our successes as a battalion and a celebration of the Army in itself.

            The entire climate of the dining-in ceremony depends on who is elected as “Mr. Vice” the right-hand-man of the President of the Mess.  Mr. Vice has a very important job; to make sure that no parties break the rules of the mess. If they do, it is also Mr. Vice’s responsibility to punish their mishaps with a drink from the notorious grog. This year, sophomore cadet Derek Lowe ruled the mess with an iron fist, focusing mainly on insulting the freshmen, but evening the scores a bit if a cadet from another class were to slip up. A few ways to be forced to succumb to the depths of the grog bowl would be clapping rather than banging your spoon against the table, leaving the mess without permission from the President, or wearing your uniform incorrectly. Everyone was on his or her best behavior under Cadet Lowe’s watchful eye.

            Another time held tradition of the mess is the infamous grog bowl; a putrid mixture of many different liquids that shall not be spoken of, including but not limited to water from Lake Champlain. For those of us above the age of twenty-one, a special alcoholic grog is made to indulge in, which always makes the mess a bit more entertaining. This year, Cadet Justin Adams became the most familiar with the bowl of grog, and everybody else could tell.

            With every passing year comes a new guest speaker. This year’s speaker was former Marine officer, Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, the Director of UVM’s Spatial Analysis Laboratory.  Although he was a Marine, we welcomed him with open arms, and even let him lead our PT session the morning of the ceremony. Mr. O’Neil-Dunne gave a wonderful speech sharing his first experiences as a platoon leader, offering advice on gaining respect as a newly commissioned officer, and encouraging cadets to always lead with confidence. To show our support for our new Marine friend, Cadet Cynthia Edgerton even convinced her volleyball coach to bring his bulldog Earl to the ceremony, the bulldog being the mascot of the Marine Corps.

            After weeks of speaking solely behind closed doors and in dark alleyways, the hard work of the class skits are finally projected onto the big screen for everybody to see. Each class is responsible for making some sort of skit to show the rest of the battalion. These usually end up with classes poking good clean fun at one another, although our MS1’s took a much different route and instead made a music video to Taylor Swift’s song “Trouble”. Per usual, the MS2 class won everybody’s hearts with their parody of well, just about everyone in the battalion, focusing mainly on the faults of the MS3’s.  These skits are everybody’s favorite part of the dining in after many weeks of build up.  This year’s dining-in also held great things for MS1 Cadet Trevor Madsen as he won a scholarship and therefore took his oath with the Army, almost every cadet’s goal for their time spent in ROTC. Congratulations Cadet Madsen!

           This year’s dining in was one for the books and will surely be the highlight of many cadets’ year in ROTC, especially for the MS1’s who have never experienced such a thing. It is a time-honored event that oftentimes strengthens the bond of a battalion by allowing everyone to let go a little bit, celebrate their shared respect for the Army, and have a little fun. One can only hope that next year’s dining in will live up to this past one and that the new Mr. Vice will rule with dignity as well.