On Saturday, May 14, 2022, military personnel, along with friends, family, and honored guests, gathered for a night of camaraderie, tradition, and tribute to honor those who have served our country and those still serving our nation. The Southwest Montana Military “Dine Out” was started ten years ago by Montana Youth Challenge Academy Director Lieutenant Colonel Trent Gibson, Montana Army National Guard, and local business owner Ron Carroll, Montana Army National Guard retiree.
The Dine Out is a tradition, uniting influences from all military branches to showcase those who have served our country, those who are still serving, and the traditions entwined in their joined companionship.
The main difference between a Dine In versus a Dine Out for military occasions is that guests are welcomed in the latter, allowing the soldier’s family and friends to attend this esteemed function. This way, the civilians can participate in the military atmosphere, while getting a taste of the stricter lifestyle.
The event kicked off with the President and Vice President explaining the rules and reverence of what you were about to experience. Though the ceremony allowed for fun and chatter, the expectations from the script could be seen as rigid and everyone was expected to follow along. In that sense, civilians would get a taste of the military lifestyle.
One special moment was The Tribute to the Fallen Ceremony, where those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for one’s service were honored. A table was set with various items, each holding a special significance to those who have served. To the naked eye, this somber moment enlightened and set a special stage that civilians could marvel at from a distance.
For lighter entertainment, the infamous Grog Bowl was introduced. The Grog legend dates back to the times of King Arthur, which has since been adapted to fit the military branches. The Grog contains many items, each one representing a place in time to pay respect to what the military has accomplished, where those who serve have come from, and what they stand for. After all the items have been added, the Grog is then enchanted, and the master of the grog performs the duties assigned to them This year’s lucky recipient of that title was Ben Stewart.
Once the symbolic ingredients were added, the Grog was prepared and tested, and a night of dining and storytelling was had by all those in attendance. If you broke the rules of the mess, you had to pay respect to the Grog. Or if the President or Vice President believed you were not living up to the rules and expectations of the Dine Out, you also could be required to salute the Grog.
Following dinner, Gerald Penn of the Elks gave a quick history lesson of how the Elks were formed and what the mission of the Elks Lodge was. He stated, “We have around 60 guests this year for this experience. The Elks will continue to work with Trent, and next year we want to see 100 people in the Lodge. We want to work to pack the Lodge, that is what we are here for, that is what we do.”
SWMT News would like to thank Ron Carroll for the invitation to attend this ceremony. It was a night that my wife and I were honored to be invited to and will never forget. Thank you to all those who have served and are serving our country.