As we begin our planning for home, one of the events that need to be planned far in advance is the Squadron Ball, and our Troop has been tapped to plan it. An Army Ball is a festive event where Soldiers wear their Class “A” uniform and bring their significant others; it’s basically Prom night where alcohol consumption is encouraged! Drinking usually starts well before the ball, continues during the informal portion, and then the festivities of the Ball REALLY begin…
To start off the night on the right foot, we have what is called the “Grog Bowl.”
Each Troop Commander and 1SG formed a line next to a large empty cauldron while holding various bottles of alcohol. Each will tell a short story about the history of their “Liquid” and pour the contents of that bottle into the bowl, but only after they take a swig. Each commander and First Sergeant is put on the spot and usually downs a significant amount of the liquid before pouring it into the bowl.
I think the last time I had to pour it was Jack Daniels and my speech went something like this: “In August 1990 Saddam Hussein chose to invade Kuwait. The Army immediately deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as part of Desert Shield with the Cavalry in the van. Teaching the dictator the error of his ways as we routed his forces and liberated Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. The Persian Gulf War taught us that with the addition of our tanks, Bradleys, and aircraft, we had worthy replacements for our old cavalry steeds. To salute the war, and the life sustaining liquid that got us through it I add water to the mix. However, I don’t drink that shit! To the grog, I shall add JOHN DANIELS Whisky!”
From out in the crowd someone yelled “It’s Jack Daniels, First Sergeant!”
“When you have known him as long as I have, brother, you can call him what you want!” I replied as I tipped the bottle and took a good four full gulps.
As the HHT First Sergeant, I feel that it is my duty to take control of the Grog Bowl for our upcoming ball. Using some of the examples from the past I want to add an old “twist” to the way our Squadron is doing it now. I am going to score each of the bottle tops and each of the 1SGs and Commanders are going to knock off the top of each bottle with a Saber, prior to pouring the contents into the Grog. Each presenter will pour a portion of their bottle into a canteen cup to taste it (so they don’t have to drink from a broken bottle) and then pour the remainder of the liquid into the bowl. I will also make sure we don’t have a repeat of the 2005 Steel Tiger Ball (the ball that I first witnessed opening bottles with the Saber).
Each of the bottles was scored and ready for each of the 1SGs and Commanders. Each came up and said their speech, knocked off the tops of the bottles, drank a bunch, and poured it into the bowl. The last Soldier to pour into the grog was the Battalion Commander. His addition to the Grog was a large bottle of Champagne. The Soldier setting up the event didn’t score the bottle as it was under pressure and too thick. The problem was, he failed to inform the Battalion Commander that the bottle wasn’t scored. The burley Battalion Commander got up, said his speech, and then smacked the top of the bottle with the Saber. Nothing happened. He hit it again, and again nothing happened. He let out a large laugh as he struck it again and again until someone ran up and informed him that the bottle wasn’t scored and he would have to open it the normal way. He looked mildly embarrassed, smiled, and pulled off the foil. Not utilizing proper muzzle awareness the Battalion Commander unscrewed the retainer wire and the bottle EXPLODED all over the table in front of him, covering at least 10 Soldiers and their dates in champagne foam!
After the Grog bowl ceremony is complete, the Junior Spur holder from each table will be called to the bowl and fill a pitcher for their table. Toasts are given to the President, Army, Soldiers, and wives. After the completion of the toasts, dinner is served. When the plates are cleared and everyone is finished eating, a guest speaker talks to the group. The guest speaker is the most important portion of the ball and is the deciding factor on if a ball is good or bad. If they speak too long or are boring, that’s all everyone talks about for years. If they are witty, short, and are speaking on a good topic, it will be remembered as a great ball because once they are done talking the drinking and dancing start!
The pressure is on to plan a great ball! I am really excited for this one; it will be the first time in over 7 years that the wife and I will have a night out without the kiddos!