ROTC has ‘fun, relaxing’ night at annual ceremony


The rain did not stop students Cathy Howard and John Richards from attending the ROTC ball Friday. Photo by Jackie Friedman.

Chase Bonhotel

The Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center teemed with a plethora of navy-blue dresses Friday, as the 630th Cadet Wing Air Force ROTC Detachment at Kent State hosted its annual dining-out.

“Essentially what we are trying to do is get away from the training environment and have a fun and relaxing evening,” said Andrew Bostwick, public affairs flight commander and senior biochemistry major. “It is similar to a military ball, which is what the cadets will have to do if they enter the military.”

As the sound of classical music reverberated throughout the ballroom, cadets arrived with their dates promptly at 5 p.m. The ceremony began with the sound of chimes produced by Cadet Major Clayton Proch and Cadet Lt. Col. Cynthia Benson, followed by the color guard’s raising of the flag and warm remarks from Lt. Col. Daniel E. Finkelstein, Detachment 630 commander.

“It is my sincere pleasure to share this Air Force tradition with each one of you,” Finkelstein said. “Dining-outs and the camaraderie they foster are an important part of our military heritage. I hope you enjoy yourselves and learn a little bit more about one of my favorite Air Force traditions.”

Before dinner, the ceremony continued with the tradition of the grog bowl. The grog bowl is a mixture of a different concoctions ranging from chocolate syrup to pineapple juice. A cadet could be sent to the grog for improper etiquette and, if found guilty, would have to take a shot of the horrendous mixture.

“The grog bowl is filled with nasty things like pineapple chunks, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, soy sauce and even socks,” Benson said. “Nobody is in actual trouble. It’s all about honoring tradition and boosting morale.”

After the grog, a five-course dinner was served followed by dessert and remarks from 1st Lt. Don Freer, a World War II veteran and POW.

Freer told a remarkable story on how he was captured by the German forces after his plane was shot down over Berlin in December 1944.

“I opened up my chute, and that’s the last thing I remember,” Freer said. “I dislocated both my knees, popped them back in place and made it to a German village where I was captured by the Nazis and later released in May 1945.”

Freer received a standing ovation from the cadets, and the crowd was astonished by his bravery. The ceremony ended with final remarks from Finkelstein.

“Whether you’re in the Air Force, graduating Kent State or alone behind enemy lines, that is why we do dining-out,” Finkelstein said, “because we come together as friends, co-workers (and) families but most of all comrades. And these times created the bonds that will carry us through harder times.”

Contact Chase Bonhotel at [email protected].