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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Staff NCO Mess Night keeps traditions alive ;

By Cpl. Nicholas Tremblay | | August 29, 2002

The U.S. Marine Corps prides itself on traditions that have been around since the Corps was established in 1775. One time-honored tradition builds camaraderie and pays homage to the men who have made the Corps the great fighting force that it is that of telling sea-stories, sharing laughs, and toasting -- known to Marines as mess night.

The staff noncommissioned officers held their annual mess night at the base conference center here Aug. 22.

This event dates back to the days when Marines  huddled in the bow of wooden ships during rough seas, drinking grog and telling tall tales. Staff NCOs recently had their night to bond with fellow Marines of the same status and carry on mess night traditions. 

Staff sergeants to sergeants major were present to share in each other's company during a feast of prime rib. This event is formal but was still a humorous and memorable occasion for those in attendance.

The mess president, Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Waltz, base sergeant major, was in charge of the festive event. Roaring laughter followed when Waltz opened the floor for finings. This part was enjoyed by many, even those who paid fines.

Everything was going smoothly until a pizza deliveryman entered the mess with a large cheese pizza. The president of the mess immediately demanded to know the meaning of this interruption and to whom this pizza belonged. Mike Carr, Lisa's Pizza deliveryman, read from his delivery slip, "Gunnery Sergeant Williams."

With a red face, an embarrassed Gunnery Sgt. Bari Williams, Headquarters Battalion special event coordinator, stood up to take the blame. But because another Gunnery Sgt. Williams was also present and the deliveryman had no first name for the pizza owner, Waltz made both individuals pay for the pizza and a fine for having food delivered.

Another famous part of the tradition was to "brining forth the beef." Waltz bit into the first piece of meat, assuring the main course for dinner was safe for his Marines to eat. Marines eagerly waited for Waltz to bite into the meat, which they had doused with hot-sauce and horseradish. Waltz's taste buds and tongue were overcome with the burning, peppery flavors. After gulping down several glasses of water to douse the fire in his mouth, Waltz declared the beef "fit for human consumption."

As the night grew old the laughter grew louder and plates and glasses emptied.

Once Marines finished dinner, Waltz closed the floor to fines and declared it time for toasts and sea-stories. Marines raised their glasses to the Commander-in-Chief, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps and many other Corps heroes.

Waltz then introduced the guest of honor, Sgt. Major. Charles Tonn, Marine Corps Materiel Command sergeant major, who spoke on the importance of mess nights and the job of staff NCOs.

The night of honoring past traditions came to a close shortly after Tonn concluded his speech. Satisfied smiles and flushed faces made the evening's enjoyment evident to even a casual observer.