BROWN DEER, Wis. --
The mess night traces its history back through centuries of military culture and traditions. From the fierce Vikings to the Roman Legions, these traditions have been passed down to modern day Marines.
Marine Corps Recruiting Station Milwaukee’s annual mess night is normally an event strictly for the Marines of the unit and special guests. This year the command opened the festivities to spouses and guests for the unit’s first Dining Out Aug. 20 in Brown Deer, Wis.
This was an experience unlike any other for many of the spouses.
“It was nicely put together,” said Kelly Ley, wife of Sgt. Bradley Ley, a recruiter from Recruiting Substation Racine. “I mean it was different than anything else that we have done. It was nice that they included us in it.”
The Dining Out allowed the spouses and guests to share in the “esprit de corps” that their Marines experience throughout their time in the Marine Corps.
“My favorite part was the camaraderie,” said Sgt. Francisco Rodriguez, a recruiter from RSS Racine. “Marines come from different recruiting substations to just hang out with each other.”
One way the Dining Out builds camaraderie is through the light-hearted, and sometimes comical, fines which can be levied on Marines throughout the night. Each Marine is expected to know and follow the “Rules of the Mess” or they can be fined by their fellow Marines. As punishment, that Marine will have to drink from the “grog,” a less than appetizing mix of mystery ingredients.
One of the rules; “thy elbows will remain from the table,” was violated by several Marines.
“I got fined for being accused of putting my elbow on the table...there was no such proof,” said Rodriguez.
In addition to the fine, Rodriguez was asked to stand on his chair so the mess could see him over the crowd while he attempted to refute the accusation.
“I thought it was very interesting and it was pretty funny watching everybody get made fun of,” said Reyna Gomez, wife of Sgt. Fernando Gomez, a RSS Racine recruiter, and Rodriguez’s friend. “I think the one where [Sgt. Rodriguez] had to stand on the chair for being too short…that was funny.”
The Marines and guests concluded the night with traditional toasts dedicated to the Marines and sailors who defended our country in past battles.
“I led the toast to the Marines who fought in World War II,” said Rodriguez. “The toasting ceremony is a great tradition because it reminds us of the Marines that have gone before us.”