In case you haven’t noticed the Military has some really cool traditions. One of them is a Dining Out.
The “official” definition of this event is
is a formal military ceremony for members of a company or other unit, which includes a dinner, drinking, and other events to foster camaraderie and esprit de corps
You’ll notice that definition is called a Dining In… there’s just 1 difference between a Dining In & Dining Out – In means no spouses/dates and Out means these people are allowed. (So you can see why I personally am a bigger fan of the Out 🙂
Ken and I made it our mission about a year ago to bring the Dining Out tradition back to NASA at the Aircraft Operations Division (AOD). Upon arriving here at the US Naval Academy we realized that this place was in need of a REAL Dining Out as well! We had to determine how to scope it and wether we would actually be allowed to do it. Luckily it worked out that we could do it and we held a Dining Out for the Aerospace Engineering Department & VTNA (Flying team) Class of 2013. It was a seniors only event with all the wonderful traditions of a Dining Out such as the Parading of the Beef, grog, Mr. Vice, Mr President (Ken), levying of “fines” etc.
So why do you as space fans care about this? Well let me tell you – many astronauts who have flown in space have been military (not that you have to be there are lots of civilians too!) and there have been quite a few who attended the Naval Academy. We decided for this Dining Out we wanted to bring as many really interesting people as we could to attend and just engage with the students (and adults!) who were attending the event. As it turns out – almost everyone who was asked if they wanted to attend as a special guest said YES right away. (We even had folks fly in from out of town.) So it was a great privilege for everyone to get to share their Dining Out with not only 5 different astronauts but also more than a dozen incredibly talented pilots as well. It made for a great evening of story-telling and inspiration!