Annual Dining In – Officer/Warrant Officer Candidate School

Commentary by Capt. Eric Barton, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

Officer Candidate Class 61-19 and Warrant Officer Candidate Class 19-001 hosted this year’s annual Dining In at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky. May 18, 2019. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Meischke, 238th Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative)

GREENVILLE, Ky. — Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center is a busy place. Everyone trains here, from Marines to civilian agencies, all taking full advantage of Kentucky’s training facilities. While walking on post it isn’t uncommon to hear the rumble of military vehicles or the occasional inbound UH–60 Blackhawk Helicopter. However, the most attention grabbing sounds are the roaring chants of motivation from Building 302, the Officer Candidate School (OCS) building. Despite other distractions, it is the voices of the OCS candidates that reign supreme.

This, however, was not the case on May 18, 2019. This night the air was not filled with class motto’s or instructions from Platoon Trainers echoing across the training site, but something much different. As I entered the 238th Regimental Headquarters, I could hear the faint clinging of glasses, the dinging of china as it was being placed, and the most wonderful sound of all, the voice of Frank Sinatra smoothly drifting from the main drill hall floor. As I moved to investigate further, I found the students of OCS Class 61-19 transforming a drab drill hall floor to a formal event space. Large round tables, set with fine china to include champagne flutes were neatly set in the space. Patriotic center pieces were placed on each table, and close to the main entrance for everyone to see, was the POW/MIA table, set in remembrance of our heroes.

Fresh off the heels of their successful completion of the OCS 48-hour Field Training Exercise, Class 61-19 were now working diligently in preparing the annual OCS Dining In which would soon host leaders from across the state.

Click here for more photos.

“One of the greatest lessons learned in regards to the planning process has been attention to detail,” said Officer Candidate Samuel Whitehead. “Over the past four months, the students of ’61-19′ have been briefing the OCS command on their concept for the event.  Another lesson we learned was understanding and utilizing our available resources.”

Lt. Col.’s Joe Warren, Bobbie Jo Badgett and Shaun Jones attend the annual Dining In hosted by this year’s Officer Candidates and Warrant Officer Candidates. OCS class 61-19 and WOCS Class 19-001 hosted this year’s Dining In at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky. May 18, 2019. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Meischke, 238th Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative)

Guests began to arrive at 5:30 p.m. and wasted no time in connecting with friends and colleagues. As Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell said in his address to Class 59-17, “These events are about making connections across the state.” The Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Bobbie Badgett commented, “This is a great opportunity for our soon to be lieutenants to meet their future company and battalion commanders.”

As is tradition, and to help break the ice a bit, ‘Mr. Vice’ presided over the event offering playful banter with the guests and more often than not, sentencing offenders of the mess to a fine of ‘one drink of the grog’. This year, Whitehead was honored with the role as Mr. Vice. The grog consisted of ten different charges (beverages) which were symbolic to the candidates time in OCS. To represent the many blisters endured from the required six, nine, and twelve ruck marches, the class chose to add gushers to the mix. “It kind of reminds of freshman year of college. It’s like all the waste from a tiki bar is added together and topped with gushers,” laughed Sgt. First Class Paul England as he paid his fine to the mess.

The Warrant Officer Candidates of Class 19-001 were among those who attended the event, so who better to have as a guest speaker than the Command Chief Warrant Officer (CCWO), Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dwight D. Harlan. Harlan spoke to both classes on the importance of team work as both classes will progress in their careers as junior officers on through their careers. The importance of networking and building relationships again echoed through his address.

“While typically outside agencies or organizations do not participate in dining-in’s this year we have a wide variety of units attending the dining-in,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Mowers, the Warrant Officer School course manager. “Both OC’s and WOC’s are able to sit with leadership of their future organizations or at the very least with peers and junior officers of their branches. I’m sure many of the candidates agree it is an enjoyable experience and a pleasant moment away from the rigors of their perspective candidate schools.”

“As for the event itself, we’re very pleased with the positive reports of our guests having such a memorable experience tonight,” agreed the students of Class 61-19. “The cohesiveness and experience of the dining-in was very rewarding.”