Naval Officers Dine on Tradition

Shiny shoes, proper attire, neatly pressed uniforms and beautiful dates were all a requirement for the night.

On Saturday, the Florida A&M ROTC Naval unit hosted their historical “Dining Out” Ceremony at the Tallahassee Antique Car Museum. Every year the unit hosts “Dining Out,” which is a tradition that has existed for over 200 years, since the United States Navy was established.

“Naval Dining Out” is a traditional formal military ceremony for members of specific units across the country. It includes dinner, drinking, skits and other events.

“Dining out is a really great event,” Charles Garner said. “It’s a chance for us to have fun and build camaraderie with (each other).”

Garner was the Public Affairs Chief of the night. The evening kicked off with an hour-long social among the NROTC, officers, commanders, colonels and lieutenants. Conversation, experience, career accomplishments and plans were exchanged.

“Seeing the new students come in and watching them develop is really inspiring,” said Lieutenant Diana Hess. “We always talk to them about what they want to do with life and this is a great chance for them to get a heads up on summer training opportunities.”

After the social, everyone greeted the head table and their guests before dinner was served. In the front of the dining area sat the traditional POW (Prisoner of War) Table. The single table with an empty chair table signified fallen comrades. A purple heart and a single lit candle sat on the table.

“The candle represents the flame of eternal life and it shows that the memory of our fallen soldiers will always be with us,” said Garner.

Colonel Harold Bass was the guest speaker of the night in place of President Ammons, said the night was also a training opportunity.

“We also look at this as a training event for the midshipmen, and we have them work on military protocol during this event,” Bass said.

He wore his several metals which included the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, Joint Service, Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star.

During his speech, Bass emphasized the importance of family and how the military values and influences family. He also presented his wife with an anniversary gift.

“I love when this time a year comes around because its so traditional and we all come together to have a good time,” said Joash Gonsalves.