Flashback Friday Moment of The Week: 12/5/2014

by Just Juan

It’s First Friday again. But it’s not just any regular First Friday…it’s First Friday in December. Historically, this has been a day in which I attended holiday parties when I was in the Air Force. There was my very first one—on this very date in 2003—in Valdosta, Georgia back when I was a member of the 347th Civil Engineer Squadron. That night in the James H. Rainwater Conference Center is classic. There was the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron Holiday Party in 2008, where I won big: a trip for 3 over Tokyo and a panini bread maker. There was the 2009 edition, where I showed up in an all-white suit for a Hawaiian themed event. Holiday parties in military settings are something like an awards show…everybody shows up and shows out. It’s always a good time. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: my last military holiday party.

How I first came across this moment? During my 10-month stint in South Korea, I worked as a facility manager as part of a special duty for the 694th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group. Officially, I was assigned to the 694th Intelligence Support Squadron. As such, I was always invited and included on all ISS events…from commander’s calls to physical fitness training to special events. Knowing that I would be leaving the Air Force at the end of my enlistment contract in July 2013, I made the decision to attend the 2012 694th Intelligence Support Squadron Holiday Party. It was hosted at some swanky hotel I can’t quite remember. It was in the Songtan Ville though…home of Songtan Sally. I arrived about 30 minutes after the party started and I mingled around with a lot of the people I knew…which was almost everybody since the building I worked in was always falling apart in some capacity. Everybody was pleasant to me even though I was very much an outsider to them being that I was a civil engineer and they were communications nerds. I won one of the early prizes: a copy of NBA 2K13 for Xbox 360. Immediately, one of the young lieutenants sitting at my table asked if I wanted to trade—a $50 iTunes gift card in exchange for the game. I agreed to the deal as I didn’t have an Xbox 360. I conducted a couple of trades with other party-goers that night: my 2 drink tickets in exchange for a raffle ticket and the iTunes gift card in exchange for 4 raffle tickets. Both ended up being good moves for me as I won a 7” digital picture frame and the very last prize given that night…a 32” TV. I celebrated with my winnings for a bit before taking pictures and dipping out.

What it meant to me then? In the moment, it was just another holiday party in the military setting. Lots of laughter, lots of people drinking and joking about. Lots of prizes. It was also an opportunity for me to see what some of those women I sort of had eyes on during that stint looked like outside of the uniform. They certainly didn’t disappoint. Overall though, it was just good fun…a chance to let loose after half a year of working in a building that didn’t have any windows to go along with a long antiquated ventilation system. That night started a month-long hot spell for me in which I won $100 at BINGO, a $25 gift card from AAFES, a pair of Skullcandy Hesh headphones at an Air Force Services event, and a free Octopus card during my Hong Kong trip at the end of that month.

What it means to me now? That party, in some respects, represents the last social function I attended as a serviceman. For the remaining 5 months I spent in South Korea, I just coasted along towards my terminal leave date. I didn’t get involved in much. Being that I’m a geographically separated employee and I don’t work closely with any active military units, I haven’t had the opportunity to go to a holiday party in 2 years. Hopefully, that’ll change next year.

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