Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. -- MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – A Marine stands at the position of attention and, at the top of his lungs, requests to speak. Outside of recruit training this may seem a bit out of the ordinary, but it is a typical scene for Marines attending a mess night.
Corporals and sergeants with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 “Heavy Haulers” attended a non-commissioned officer mess night at the Officer’s Club aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 8.
Heavy Hauler non-commissioned officers used the night to come closer together.
“It shows the Marine Corps is a Family, it’s not just you. It’s a time to relax and have fun and [the Marine Corps] is not all about work,” said Cpl. Daitoine Austin, operations non-commissioned officer in charge with HMH-462 and a Cleveland native.
Mess nights are a custom of a dinner with unique rules that date back to English mess nights in the 1800s.
“The rules are you’re not suppose to speak unless you request permission through the vice president and speaking without permission can lead to a fine of however much you want to, our limit was twenty dollars and/or drinking from the rum punch,” said Austin.
The night is full of traditions which include playing jokes on fellow Marines.
In one tradition, the president tastes a very spicy and disgusting piece of beef and has to claim that the meal is suitable for everyone before anyone can eat the main course, explained Austin.
“They spiced it up too much and it burned my throat,” said Sgt Jorge A. Pineda, the president of the mess night and a Puerto Rico native. “They really got me.”
Another tradition of the night is having a guest of honor sit at the head table with the president of the mess and that was Lt. Col. Robert Fanning, the commanding officer of HMH-462.
“I enjoyed having the [commanding officer] there. He is someone we look up to and he had good knowledge to pass on how to be better leaders for our squadron,” said Pineda.
Fanning used the night to show his appreciation for the NCOs who work hard to keep the squadron running smoothly.
“It’s pretty inspirational to see all these Marines come together and see the leadership in this room,” said Fanning. “I have been to many places but the experience I’m most proud of is working with this squadron.”
The night ended with toasts to the president, fallen comrades and deployed Marines across the world, another tradition. The Heavy Haulers hope the night made a tighter bond between all the NCOs to take back to their squadron.