Cadet Corps hold program’s first annual Mess Night

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, January 4, 2023

On Friday, Dec. 6, the Elizabethton High School Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) held the program’s first annual Mess Night in celebration and conclusion of Samuel P. Carter Military Heritage Day.
Mess Night, sometimes referred to as a “Dining In,” is a ceremonial occasion where a military unit gathers to share in their customs and courtesies as well as build camaraderie and Esprit de Corps.
During this time-honored tradition, the cadets, along with various community guests, took part in a formal dinner held at VFW Post 2166 in Elizabethton.
Although the event is filled with pomp and circumstance, entertainment is also a part of the occasion.
Humor was added to the event by levying charges on anyone, with the exception of members of the “head table,” who violated the “rules of the mess.” The rules of the mess are standards of etiquette which must be adhered to. When a member of the mess violates one of the rules, fellow cadets may “charge” him or her with a violation.
After hearing both sides of the argument from the accused and accuser, the president of the mess imposes fines; in most cases a drink from the grog, for any infractions deemed appropriate.
The grog is a bowl filled with a concoction resembling punch. This traditional “beverage” is made up of various ingredients symbolic of past American conflicts and wars. Of the fines and grog, Company Commander Cadet Lieutenant Kayleigh Shoemake, who served as the President of the Mess said, “It was a unique tradition that was both entertaining and interesting to say the least. All of the cadets and guests enjoyed this time, jokes and pranks.”
Following the Marine Corps’ Drill and Ceremonies Manual, the dinner was conducted in accordance with the orders and regulations of an actual military Mess Night. In fact, within the Drill and Ceremonies Manual, it states, “Mess night, a tradition as old as the Corps itself, has historically been a time when those who execute policy have an opportunity to meet those who make [policy]. It’s a time for old sea stories, speeches and jokes, as well as ovations; but most importantly, it is a time to strengthen the customs and traditions of our Corps.” The Betsy Cadets held true to this statement and represented the unit and school well while honoring the traditions and legacy of our military heritage.
Guests of the Mess included the Director of Schools Richard VanHuss, several local military retirees and veterans, special donors to the program and Commanders of local Veteran Service Organizations. The meal for the evening was prepared and served by Chef Jay Shurtz and his Culinary Arts class.
The Company Executive Officer, Cadet Lieutenant Junior Grade Tyanna Hitechew, who served as “Madam Vice President of the Mess,” said of the evening, “It was a great night that allowed us to celebrate our accomplishments as a unit while also thanking those community members that have supported our program.  It was a lot of work and preparation to execute, but in the end it was all worth it and we can’t wait to do it again next year!”

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