A night of ceremony and laughter

Tuscola's ninth annual Military Ball a succes
By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Mar 09, 2014
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Andrew Cagle holds Levi Burchfield on his shoulders while dancing with a group of AFJROTC cadets from Tuscola High School.

The Maggie Valley Country Club was filled with polished military uniforms, glimmering evening gowns and a lot of dancing Saturday evening when Tuscola High School's Air Force JROTC chapter held its ninth annual military ball.

The ball is held to honor and salute the students who make up the Tuscola AFJROTC Corps of Cadets. The cadets are committed to improving themselves by participating in the AFJROTC program, which helps students develop a strong character dedicated to serving their nation and community.

The National Anthem and various toasts to those serving in the armed forces kicked off the event before guests enjoyed a three-course meal provided by Maggie Valley Country Club.

But before dinner commenced, the AFJROTC cadets held a brief ceremony in honor of the soldiers who are Prisoners of War or Missing in Action (POW/MIA). During a moment of silence, several cadets arranged an empty dining table that was stationed in the center of the room as a way to remember soldiers who could not be there to dine with them. A candle was lit in their honor and their drinking glasses were placed face down.

"Let us remember these prisoners of war and all their services that are too often forgotten," said Susan Nations, Tuscola's AFJROTC cadet president.

Dinner time was filled with laughter as soon as the cadets held their "Bowl of Retribution" in front of the room. During this time, cadets were singled out for not following proper protocol and rules that are enforced when a military is dining in a "mess" — an area where military personnel socialize and eat.

One rule of the mess that was commonly broken was "when a lady both leaves and approaches a table, all the gentlemen will stand and remain standing until she has regained her seat." When such rules were broken, certain punishments were carried out for the amusement of the mess.

The cadets who broke rules had to salute an empty toilet and then draw a slip of paper out of its bowl, which would become their amusing punishment. Laughter erupted whenever cadets fulfilled their punishment — which consisted of various embarrassing assignments such as pretending to be turkeys or zooming around the dining room like an airplane. Cadets weren't permitted to stop until the cadet president said she was satisfied.

Once cadets closed their "Bowl of Retribution," guest speaker Marine Sgt. Daniel R. Lovette took the podium and gave an uplifting speech. Lovette is currently stationed aboard Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune and is in charge of a Regimental Maintenance Shop.

Lovette told the cadets to be mindful of their actions and to always strive to learn more.

"Living a life in the service will not be easy and is not always pleasant, but it will be meaningful and honorable," Lovette said. "No matter what path you take, the world needs educated individuals. Never stop learning."

While most of the guests left after the dinner and presentation, the party was just beginning for the cadets. Once tables were cleared and moved aside, the AFJROTC members flocked to the dance floor and began grooving to music provided by a DJ.

The girls' heels were kicked off, the boys' ties were removed and the cadets spent the rest of the evening dancing to songs such as "The Cupid Shuffle" and "Gangnam Style."

Comments (1)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Mar 10, 2014 08:10

What a fun experience -- even just to read about it!


"One rule of the mess that was commonly broken was "when a lady both leaves and approaches a table, all the gentlemen will stand and remain standing until she has regained her seat." -- A very nice reminder that all gentlemen should remember when taking their own bride out to dinner.

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