The Dining-In/Out: An Honored Military Tradition
The Dining-In represents the most formal aspects of Air Force social
life. The custom is a very old tradition, although its origin is not
clear. Formal feasts to honor military victories and individual
achievements have been customary from pre-Christian Roman legions to
King Arthur's knights in the sixth century.
The custom of the dining-in is not exclusively military. The tradition
as we know it today is rooted in England where it was a custom in monasteries. It was later adopted by the early universities and spread
to the military when the officer's mess was established. With the
adoption of the dining-in by the military, these feasts became more
formalized. British soldiers introduced the custom to colonial
America, where it was borrowed by George Washington's Continental
These dinners have become traditional in all the branches of the armed
forces. In the Air Force and Navy, it is the Dining-in; in the Army,
the regimental dinner; in the Marine Corps and Coast Guard, mess
The Air Force Dining-in format began in the United States Army Air
Corps with General "Hap" Arnold's "Wing-dings." The Air Corps'
association with the British in World War II increased its popularity,
and since that time it has been modified into its present form.
Faculty members of the Squadron Officer School of the Air University
began having faculty Dining-ins. They were later included in the
curriculum for the students, and because of their success, dining-ins
spread rapidly to other Air Force units. Many of the original
traditions are still very much alive.
The Rules of the Mess
The following is a list of the rules will be conducted. They are
designed to conform to the tradition and promote levity. Violators of
the rules are subject to the wrath and mischievousness of Mr. Vice.
All assigned punishments and penalties will be carried out before the
1. Thou shalt arrive within 10 minutes of the appointed hour.
2. Thou shalt make every effort to meet all the guests.
3. Thou shalt move to the mess when thee hears the chimes and remain
standing until seated by the President.
4. Thou shalt not bring cocktails or lighted materials into the mess.
5. Thou shalt smoke only when the smoking lamp is lit.
6. Thou shalt participate in all toasts unless thyself or thy group is
honored with the toast.
7. Thou shalt not leave the mess while convened.
8. Thou shalt ensure that thy glass is always charged when toasting.
9. Thou shalt keep toasts and comments within the limits of good taste
and mutual respect. Degrading or insulting remarks will be frowned
upon by the membership. However, good natured needling is ENCOURAGED.
10. Thou shalt not murder the Queen's English.
11. Thou shalt always use the proper toasting procedures.
12. Thou shalt not open the hangar doors.
13. Thou shalt fall into disrepute with thy peers if the pleats of thy
cummerbund are not properly faced.
14. Thou shalt also be painfully regarded if thy clip-on bow tie rides
at an obvious list. Thou shalt be forgiven, however, if thee also
rides at a comparable list.
15. Thou shalt consume thy meal in a manner becoming a gentle person.
16. Thou shalt not laugh at ridiculously funny comments unless the
President first shows approval by laughing.
17. Thou shalt express thy approval by tapping thy spoon on the table.
Clapping of thy hands will not be tolerated.
18. Thou shalt not question the decisions of the President.
19. When the mess adjourns, thou shalt rise and wait for the
President and guests to leave.
20. Thou shalt enjoy thyself to the fullest.