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SMC takes aim and targets fun during Combat Dining Out

Senior Master Sgt. Steven Shulski, Space and Missile Systems Center 1st Sergeant draws a bead on an opponent during a mock Code Red firefight during the SMC Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Senior Master Sgt. Steven Shulski, Space and Missile Systems Center 1st Sergeant draws a bead on an opponent during a mock Code Red firefight during the SMC Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

A Table of Honor, recognizing service members missing in action from past conflicts is on display during the Space and Missile Systems Center Combat Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

A Table of Honor, recognizing service members missing in action from past conflicts is on display during the Space and Missile Systems Center Combat Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

The Space and Missile Systems Center's Air Force Honor Guard perform a presentation of the colors during the official opening of the SMC Combat Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

The Space and Missile Systems Center's Air Force Honor Guard perform a presentation of the colors during the official opening of the SMC Combat Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Members of the Global Positioning Directorate’s “Green Monsters” enjoy the camaraderie of good company amongst all the squadrons during the Space and Missile Systems Center Combat Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Members of the Global Positioning Directorate’s “Green Monsters” enjoy the camaraderie of good company amongst all the squadrons during the Space and Missile Systems Center Combat Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Senior Master Sgt. Steven Shulski, Space and Missile Systems Center 1st Sergeant performs a “weapons check” of a NERF rifle as one of the official Sergeants-at-arms under the watchful gaze of Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, SMC commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space (center), Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC vice commander, serving as president of the Mess, and California National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Cabrera, one of the honored guest speakers during the SMC Combat Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Senior Master Sgt. Steven Shulski, Space and Missile Systems Center 1st Sergeant performs a “weapons check” of a NERF rifle as one of the official Sergeants-at-arms under the watchful gaze of Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, SMC commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space (center), Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC vice commander, serving as president of the Mess, and California National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Cabrera, one of the honored guest speakers during the SMC Combat Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Led by Col. Douglas Pentecost, center, chief of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Systems Division of Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Systems Directorate, members from SMC and the 61st Air Base Group prepare to “charge” the Grog Bowl during the SMC Combat Dining Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Led by Col. Douglas Pentecost, center, chief of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Systems Division of Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Systems Directorate, members from SMC and the 61st Air Base Group prepare to “charge” the Grog Bowl during the SMC Combat Dining Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

“CODE RED!” Mayhem and hilarity ensue as a mock firefight breaks out with members of the Global Positioning Directorate defending their tent  during the Space and Missile Systems Center Combat Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

“CODE RED!” Mayhem and hilarity ensue as a mock firefight breaks out with members of the Global Positioning Directorate defending their tent during the Space and Missile Systems Center Combat Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Guest speaker and retired Army 1st Lt. George Gentry, a Vietnam veteran, addresses the Warriors of the Mess during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. Gentry singled out and expressed his thanks and admiration to members of the Air Force Medical Service responsible for stabilizing him and performing an aeromedical evacuation out of the theatre of conflict, thereby saving his life. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Guest speaker and retired Army 1st Lt. George Gentry, a Vietnam veteran, addresses the Warriors of the Mess during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. Gentry singled out and expressed his thanks and admiration to members of the Air Force Medical Service responsible for stabilizing him and performing an aeromedical evacuation out of the theatre of conflict, thereby saving his life. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Guest speaker and retired Army 1st Lt. George Gentry, a Vietnam veteran, is coined and thanked for his service and sacrifice by Master Sgt. Zachary Pate, 61st Air Base Group 1st Sgt. during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Guest speaker and retired Army 1st Lt. George Gentry, a Vietnam veteran, is coined and thanked for his service and sacrifice by Master Sgt. Zachary Pate, 61st Air Base Group 1st Sgt. during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, center, and Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC vice commander, serving as president (“The Boss”) of the Mess, thank guest speaker and retired Army 1st Lt. George Gentry, a Vietnam veteran for his service and sacrifice during the SMC Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)
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Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, center, and Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC vice commander, serving as president (“The Boss”) of the Mess, thank guest speaker and retired Army 1st Lt. George Gentry, a Vietnam veteran for his service and sacrifice during the SMC Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Guest speaker and California National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Cabrera addresses the Warriors of the Mess, reflecting on their service in the past while offering personal thanks to the attendees for serving their country during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)
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Guest speaker and California National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Cabrera addresses the Warriors of the Mess, reflecting on their service in the past while offering personal thanks to the attendees for serving their country during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Guest speaker and retired Air Force Master Sgt. Jeff Oehler addresses the Warriors of the Mess during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)
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Guest speaker and retired Air Force Master Sgt. Jeff Oehler addresses the Warriors of the Mess during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, Space and Missile Systems Center command chief, channels his inner Clint Eastwood rendition of Gunnery Sgt. Tom Highway from Heartbreak Ridge as he surveys the obstacle course at the SMC Combat Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)
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Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, Space and Missile Systems Center command chief, channels his inner Clint Eastwood rendition of Gunnery Sgt. Tom Highway from Heartbreak Ridge as he surveys the obstacle course at the SMC Combat Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Capt. Nicholas Battle, executive officer to Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, Space and Missile Systems Center vice commander, and Janell Green, 61st Communications Squadron in her role as Madam Vice of the Mess battle it out on the water and sandbag portion of the obstacle course during the SMC Combat Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)
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Capt. Nicholas Battle, executive officer to Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, Space and Missile Systems Center vice commander, and Janell Green, 61st Communications Squadron in her role as Madam Vice of the Mess battle it out on the water and sandbag portion of the obstacle course during the SMC Combat Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

It’s a race to the finish line as Staff Sgt. Bonnie Gheen battles Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, Space and Missile Systems Center command chief through an obstacle course during the SMC Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)
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It’s a race to the finish line as Staff Sgt. Bonnie Gheen battles Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, Space and Missile Systems Center command chief through an obstacle course during the SMC Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

In deference to severe drought conditions in California, NERF weaponry of various sizes, shapes, and firepower were creatively pressed into action in lieu of water guns or balloons for mock “Code Red” attacks on the encampment during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Spellman)
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In deference to severe drought conditions in California, NERF weaponry of various sizes, shapes, and firepower were creatively pressed into action in lieu of water guns or balloons for mock “Code Red” attacks on the encampment during the Space and Missile Systems Center Dining-Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Spellman)

“The Rocketeer” time-warps in from the 1940s to help defend the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle tent during a mock “Code Red” firefight at the SMC Dining Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Spellman)
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“The Rocketeer” time-warps in from the 1940s to help defend the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle tent during a mock “Code Red” firefight at the SMC Dining Out at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Spellman)

A “Warrior of the Mess” makes a big splash after breaking the rules of engagements and compelled to complete an obstacle course during the Space and Missile Systems Center Combat Dining Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)
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A “Warrior of the Mess” makes a big splash after breaking the rules of engagements and compelled to complete an obstacle course during the Space and Missile Systems Center Combat Dining Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space and Mrs. Patricia Greaves pose for a group photo with members of the Global Positioning Directorate’s “Green Monsters” at the SMC Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)
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Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space and Mrs. Patricia Greaves pose for a group photo with members of the Global Positioning Directorate’s “Green Monsters” at the SMC Dining-Out held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Corrice)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- Some came wearing old-style battle dress uniforms or BDUs. Others came in their current Airmen battle uniform or flight suits. Many dressed up like their favorite characters from Star Wars or The Rocketeer, or an episode of M*A*S*H. Some wore outfits that once seen in the waning light of the late afternoon sun, simply could not be unseen.

With their NERF side arms, double-pump action rifles, machine guns and even long-range cannons locked and loaded with black, blue and orange spongy rounds, more than 300 members of Space and Missile Systems Center prepared to do battle during the SMC Combat Dining-Out.

"Wow, what an outstanding event!" exclaimed Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, SMC commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space. "This was a great opportunity for our SMC Airmen, civilians, contractors and their spouses to get together, celebrate our Air Force heritage and enjoy a warm summer Friday evening together."

The first such event held after a five year hiatus was sponsored by the Top Three enlisted corps and held in a mock "encampment" near the Los Angeles AFB fitness center.

Designed to increase members' morale, introduce some formal aspect of military social life and familiarize others with Air Force traditions, the history of a formal dinner to celebrate military victories and achievements traces its roots back to ancient times.

"The purpose of the dining-out is to enjoy a relaxing evening of camaraderie in good company amongst all the squadrons. We wanted to give something back to our fellow Airmen and give them something fun to do," said Master Sgt. Virginia Hernandez-Farfan, SMC Space Superiority Systems Directorate superintendent and lead action officer for the dining-out.

"I obviously could not do it alone. I had help which I feel should also be acknowledged, particularly Senior Master Sgt. Ivanis Washington from SMC Financial Management and Staff Sgt. Sarah Galati from the 61st Medical Squadron," said Hernandez-Farfan.

Attempting to create a realistic deployment scenario complete with camouflage netting, sandbags and armored vehicles as a backdrop, the warriors of the mess, some with their faces covered in camouflage paint, awaited in-processing or performed weapon checks. Top Three members issued formal instructions and a souvenir bag containing safety glasses, dog tags and additional "rounds" of NERF bullets in lieu of water guns and balloons, in deference to drought conditions affecting the state of California.  

Members were highly encouraged to mix, mingle and meet other members of SMC's directorates and divisions, and various squadrons from the 61st ABG.

Greaves, along with Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC vice commander, Thomas Fitzgerald, SMC acting executive director, Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, SMC command chief and other guests of the head table made their entrance with all the pomp and circumstance befitting their status.

Following Ruffles and Flourishes, presentation of the colors, various toasts and a review of the rules of engagement, Lt. Col. Ben Forest, SMC Remote Sensing Directorate, and Janell Green, 61st Communications Squadron  in their roles as Mister and Madam Vice, called upon Senior Master Sgt. Steven Shulski, SMC 1st Sergeant and Master Sgt. Zachary Pate, 61st ABG 1st Sergeant as the official Sergeants-at-arms to assemble the grog bowl with the assistance of additional representatives from throughout the encampment.

"It was fun being Mister Vice and working with Janell," Forest said. "It's always fun and exciting when you have a direct influence on making the dining-out a success."

Forest added that one of his duties as Mister Vice was to prosecute individuals for "breaking the rules of engagements," to which many "Points of Order" were raised.

When found guilty of the "egregious offenses" by McMurry, sporting a sign stating "THE BOSS" as designated president of the combat dining-out, the "convicted" offenders - some of whom included civilians and spouses of active-duty members -- were ordered to complete an obstacle course to the blaring theme music of The Terminator as they made their way to the grog bowl.

"The most amazing part of the evening for me was when I was sent to the grog. I've never felt more touched than when I heard my name called," said Patrice Wilder, a Quantech Services, Inc. contractor with SMC's Range and Network Systems Division. 

"I know that sounds silly, but for me, I felt so honored that my team cared enough about me to give me the opportunity to experience being sent to the grog," Wilder admitted. "I can't explain it and I wish I could put it I words. It was just the best experience ever and I'll never forget it."

After a combat dinner of turkey or ham sandwiches, a few "Code Red" NERF firefights and more court cases before the grog, distinguished guests and military veterans, retired Army 1st Lt. George Gentry, California National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Cabrera and retired Air Force Master Sgt. Jeff Oehler spoke to the warriors of the mess, reflecting on their service in the past while offering personal thanks to the attendees for serving their country today.

Dining-outs and dining-ins are long-standing Air Force traditions that originated in the 1930s with the Army Air Corps and General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold's famous "wing-dings." These two social events differ only in that nonmilitary spouses, friends and civilians may attend a dining-out. Combat variations of these events are less formal and have grown in popularity in recent years.

"Some of the lieutenants didn't really understand why I was so excited to be there so I explained to them that even though I didn't serve, I feel connected to every member in the armed services who makes that sacrifice for Americans and that my way of supporting them is working here on base," said Wilder.

"Going to the combat dining-out gave me -- a contractor -- the opportunity to actually participate in an honorable tradition that I might not ever have the opportunity to participate in again," Wilder explained. "There were moments that I was sitting in awe and filled with gratitude, especially when I heard the guest speakers. And then there were other times that I just felt pure joy as I ran around during the code red NERF battles. I was told that my cool points just went up (with my teammates) when I did a battle cry and helped defend our tent with my NERF gun."