Article written by WO2 Stephen Donato
Westmount, Quebec – 11 April 2021: On the night of March 17th, 2021, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets of 1 West Montreal Squadron conducted a Virtual Mess Dinner over the Zoom online meeting platform. As the cadets adapted to the virtual platform through their online class meetings every Wednesday, the officers of 1 West Montreal Squadron helped make the experience as immersive to a real mess dinner.
The Commanding Officer of 1 West Montreal Squadron, Major Leslie, offered to all the cadets participating in the mess dinner free meals delivered by right at their doorstep a couple of days before the night began. The meals offered choices for cadets to pick from, either a juicy chicken breast, a soft and tender porkchop, or a tasty vegan curry option for those who do not eat meat. The meals were kept in the fridge to prevent them from perishing until cooking them the day of the mess dinner either in the microwave or the oven.
Before the official dinner began, the cadets prepared their uniforms just like a proper mess dinner, tidying up their tunics and ironing their blue shirts. They then plated their meals and waited before the Mess Dinner to begin. At the start of the night, the cadets were greeted by the PMC WO2 Donato to the Virtual Mess Dinner. They then directed their attention to the Head Table which consisted of Major Leslie, WO2 Donato, and two of the WO2s that aged out during this year which are Former WO2 Yang, Sherry, and Former WO2 Chan, Aloysius.
There was also a special guest from the Head Table, which was Captain Murphy, the training officer from the 2862 Army Cadet Corps. Capt Murphy was invited by our senior NCOs in appreciation for her hard work in support of the cadet program, and in particular her helpfulness and collegiality whenever she is supervising joint band practices or other times when both units are at the RMR.
Finally, introduced by the PMC, was the Vice PMC of the night, Cadet Jones, Sara. The Vice PMC was selected by being the youngest cadet of the squadron in attendance, as is the tradition. After the greetings, the Mess Call was made, and Grace was offered by CI Caso. Afterward, the cadets were separated in between breakout rooms to chat amongst each other by levels. It was important for the cadets to socialize and get to know their peers since they have had little time to meet face to face and get to share their interests outside of the Air Cadet program. The senior cadets were hosting each of the breakout rooms to get the cadets talking and getting them to socialize amongst each other while enjoying the amazing meal given by the squadron. Afterward, the rooms closed, and the cadets were redirected to the main channel where the cadets played a game of Jeopardy! with everyone to reinforce their knowledge of military history, camaraderie, tradition, and community. After the game, they gave a toast to the queen which was led by the VPMC Jones.
There was a speech held by the Commanding Officer Major Leslie about the importance of military camaraderie, how lucky we are to be affiliated with the RMR, and how much we look forward to having next year’s dinner back in the armoury! This was followed by special presentations and heartfelt farewells from the former Warrants to the cadets. The night ended with cadets getting to socialize and having a fun time with each other through the virtual platform.