Over 200 AF-JROTC cadets, from the Flagler Palm Coast High School, and their families gathered at the Palm Coast VFW for the 23rd-annual Dining-Out function.
Throughout the VFW dining hall, over 200 cadets emitted a respectful silence as the AF-JROTC POW/MIA Honor Guard cadets performed a white table ceremony in honor of those who have fallen victim as a Prisoner of War or who still remain Missing in Action.
The evening consisted of pleasant toasts, speeches and military customs. Each cadet could be observed in full military uniform and seated next to their immediate family.
Every year the Flagler Palm Coast High School Junior ROTC cadets are given the privilege to attend a formal Dining-Out function at the Palm Coast VFW Post 8696. The Dining-Out has been an annual tradition for the FPC Air Force JROTC since 1993. Instructor Lt. Col. Tom Snodgrass ensures that each cadet is held to the highest standards, ensuring each pupil reach their full potential while a member of the JROTC.
“This is an opportunity for the cadets to get together in comradery and to be recognized for their accomplishments whilst in the JROTC program,” Lt. Col. Snodgrass said. “The function gives the cadets a chance to practice military protocol, customs and traditions, while honoring all United States veterans and military personnel.”
Every year the cadets are given the task to plan out the evening and manage the event.
“The Dining-Out serves many purposes for preparing cadets for active duty,” Col. Snodgrass said. “The event helps develop important organizational, planning and managing skills that will eventually play a key role in any civilian or military career.”
“The Dining-Out serves many purposes for preparing cadets for active duty; the event helps develop important organizational, planning and managing skills that will eventually play a key role in any civilian or military career.”
LT. COL. TOM SNODGRASS, of Flagler Palm Coast High School
In-between each speech a traditional toast was held to encourage the cadet’s participation in the honoring of senior military and political leaders. Cadets who failed to follow traditions were sent to publicly take a swing from the customary GROG bowl, which contained a concoction of seemingly unappetizing, unknown liquids.
To conclude the evening, a special guest speaker, Chief Christopher Eckels, who was seated at the Head Table beside Lt. Col. Snodgrass and Flagler School’s Superintendent Jacob Oliva, gave a speech to encourage all of the young cadets. Eckels, currently a Chief for the U.S. Navy, graduated from FPC’s AF-JROTC in 1996.
“I was a part of one of the first classes to go through this program,” Chief Eckels said. “The last time I was in this building I was here for my own Dining-Out, in one of your seats. Many of the things I learned through this program I have taken with me throughout my military career.”