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March 08, 2013

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Soldiers, Family, friends participate in 181st’s annual formal banquet

Story & photo by Capt. Rob Lodewick, 181st Infantry Brigade Public Affairs Officer

Soldiers, Family members and friends from across the Fort McCoy community came together Feb. 9 at the 181st Infantry Brigade’s annual formal banquet.
PHOTO: Guests at the 181st Infantry Brigade’s annual formal banquet enjoyed an evening of traditional military activities, dining, socializing and dancing. Photo by Capt. Rob Lodewick
Guests at the 181st Infantry Brigade’s annual formal banquet enjoyed an evening of traditional military activities, dining, socializing and dancing.

Hosted at Tomah’s Cranberry Country Lodge, the event drew more than 160 attendees who observed and/or participated in formal military introductions, traditional toasts and recognitions, followed by dining and dancing well into the evening.

Brigade Commander Col. Eric J. Angeli and Brigade Command Sergeant Major Command Sgt. Maj. Mark W. Confer personally welcomed each guest as they arrived at the event.

After guests navigated their way through the sea of red, white and blue decorations to find their seats, the 181st Color Guard initiated the formal portion of the event by presenting the nation’s colors.

Traditional toasts honored the service and sacrifice of past generations of Soldiers, and hailed the Army, the United States and the commander in chief. Formalities reached a somber point as all turned toward the empty table and chair set to honor fallen Soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. As the symbolism behind the lemon, salt and single yellow rose was recounted, solemn faces and teary eyes attested to the honored remembrance of countless friends and battle buddies lost throughout long Army careers.

For many, the highlight of the evening was the traditional preparation of the “grog.”

Representatives from each of the brigade’s six subordinate battalions took turns contributing to the concoction while providing amusing anecdotes explaining their choice of ingredient.

After a few choice additions of his own, Confer grabbed the ceremonial Entrenchment Tool gave one final stir and presented Angeli with a canteen cup full of the mixture for final command approval.

After one final addition, “Eagle 6”(Angeli) approved the grog fit for consumption and all were free to partake.
The remainder of the evening was filled with dining, socializing and dancing.

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