Every year, the AFJROTC (Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) program at the ACC (Arlington Career Center) hosts a Military Ball inviting all of its cadets and a date, if they choose to bring one. The dress code for males is either a modified version of the SDB (Service Dress Blues) or an optional tuxedo. For females, it’s the same modified version of the SBD, but the most popular attire among them is a formal, conservative dress.
The ball in itself takes around a month to plan, and a week to set up. The planning period involves buying the decorations, choosing what food to serve, and finally getting all the details of the event (DJ, ticket prices, etc.) organized. With setting up, the decorations are put up in the “commons”, the main atrium of the ACC. The commons are decorated with colorful streamers, balloon arches, snowflakes and dazzling Christmas lights. The color theme is the traditional American colors of red, white and blue.
The main purpose of the ball is not only for the cadets entertainment, but it is to also educate the cadets on real life military traditions. A tradition executed at the ball was the use of a POW (Prisoner of War) and MIA (Missing in Action) table. This table is used to honor those who have either made the ultimate sacrifice or have not returned home to their families. The table is left empty and is decorated with symbols that represent those who haven’t been able to be honored rightfully. This tradition was started after the end of the Vietnam War (April 30, 1975).
The ball begins with a fancy dinner catered by the culinary arts program. This year, cadets were served vegetables, beef, grilled chicken and an assortment of desserts. Cadet Senior Master Sergeant Anjulina Abdon states, “We had our teachers [and] instructors like Ms.Chung that were serving us while we were walking in a line, so that was really cool. I think it was enjoyable for the cadets to see that ‘Oh, they’re out here helping us.’’’ Another cadet, Cadet Airman Jonas Jonson states, “The food was amazing. I really thought I was gonna burst after my second plate.”
After dinner, begins a ceremony by the name of the “Change of Command” During this ceremony, some cadets will step up from their position while others will rise in position. This year, the main event at the Change of Command was the change of Squadron Commander. A third year, former Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Orion Colgrove, stepped down and let former Cadet Major Luke Nieper take over.
When asked about his feelings towards stepping down, Colgrove says, “My favorite part about JROTC is seeing new people take charge and grow as leaders. (…) The Change of Command is no different. Giving other exemplary students, like Cadet Nieper, the chance to test their leadership in a position as demanding as Squadron Commander is exciting!”
When asked about the general response to the ball, a first year cadet, Cadet Airman First Class Talia Penn states, “Although it was my first military ball, it was truly extraordinary. I’d never been to something so professional, and it was nice to see all the cadets come together and meet each other.”
All in all, the Military Ball is a fun and educational event that demonstrates and represents all of the values that the AFJROTC holds dearly.