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Tickets to go on sale for Dining Out

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- For the first time in eight years, Ellsworth will host a Dining Out.

It will take place May 5 at 6 p.m. at Dakota’s, with tickets available to base military members and their guests starting Monday.

Tickets are limited, though, so each unit will only have an available number of tickets proportional to its size. Service-members will be able to purchase tickets from their first sergeants Monday through April 21 at $20 for E-6 and below and $25 for E-7 and above; guests will pay the same price as their escorts.

“Expect these tickets to sell out quickly,” said Chief Master Sgt. Clyde Aune, 28th Bomb Wing command chief. He said the Mess members of last year’s Dining In -- which he spearheaded after arriving here -- want to attend again.

During the two-and-a-half-hour traditional military dinner, Mess members and their guests will pay respect to the U.S. flag, participate in traditional toasts, honor prisoners of war and those missing in action, and learn about the history of Ellsworth and those who’ve served here. The guest speaker is Chief Master Sgt. David Popp, Air Combat Command command chief.

“I believe it’s critical to keep this formal social custom going for future men and women in our Air Force,” said Chief Aune, who’s helped plan 22 of these traditional dining events during his 28 years in what he says is a “young” Air Force that doesn’t have as many customs and traditions as some of its sister services.

The Air Force shares the Dining Out tradition with all military branches; it evolved from the Dining In to allow Mess members to share the tradition with spouses and other guests.

Some historians trace the origin of the Dining In back to the old English monasteries where early universities adopted formal dinners. Then, upon the establishment of Officer’s Open Messes, the tradition spread to military units on the isle.

British soldiers brought the custom to Colonial America in the 18th century, where George Washington’s Continental Army adopted it. Later down the road, the two nation’s armies shared this tradition as allies.

“The Dining In custom was fostered by close bonds enjoyed between U.S. Army Air Corps members and their British colleagues of the Royal Air Force during World War II,” said Chief Aune.

The “memorable” Dining Out “promises to be rich in tradition, laughter and heartfelt respect for those in harm’s way,” said the chief.