Northwest service members celebrate holidays
December 20, 2012
By Staff Report
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army Medical Department Holiday Ball was held on a cold, blustery and magical Dec. 15 evening full of tradition and ceremony. Ball attendees ranged in rank and title from flag officers to privates and civil servants accompanied by family members and special dates.
The dress was just as varied, with crisp dress uniforms, tuxedoes, and beautiful sequined gowns filling the ballroom. Glasses were raised to worthy toasts and voices combined for holiday songs, including a rousing chorus of 'The 12 Days of Christmas,' with a flourish of red napkins and abounding laughter.
"Tonight is a great time to share our pride and camaraderie in all that we do. I am very proud of all the teams coming together tonight to enjoy this special event," said Madigan Commander, Col. Dallas Homas. "I am particularly proud of team Madigan."
A delicious three-course dinner was served as guests listened to Congressman Norm Dicks gave thoughtful comments and remarks about his experience in congress. Dicks will be retiring soon and has contributed enormously to the making of Madigan as it stands today.
"I'm thrilled to be here," Dicks said. "I've worked with Army Medicine throughout my entire career. When I was first in the House of Representatives, I got a chance to work on replacing the old Madigan with the new Madigan. We incrementally funded the project over a four to five year period, rather than have all the money appropriated before the start--which was almost impossible to do at that time. After this was done successfully at Madigan, it was implemented in all the other military hospitals, so it was a precedent," Dicks said.
Dicks was recognized with several gifts for his years of public service and support in Congress including being inducted as an honorary member of the Army Medical Department Regiment and being presented the prestigious honorary Order of Military Medical Merit award.
Additionally, Sgt. Justin C. Gavit was recognized for his achievement as the Madigan Non- Commissioned Officer of the Year. Pfc. Ian D. Alonso was also recognized as the Madigan Solider of the Year.
The ball afforded the opportunity to not only recognize numerous achievements, but for old friends to reconnect and for new acquaintances to be made while observing the rich traditions of a formal military event.
"These events are important because they tie us to our heritage, but are also a link to our future. So, the folks that have been around a day or two, they can appreciate where we come from, and the folks that are new, it's good for them to come and see that we do have lineage and we do have heritage," said I Corps Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Robert Brown. "To maintain these traditions is important."
Sgt. Allen Colacchio attended the ball along with his date, Hope.
"This is our first time at a military ball," Colacchio said. "I have been in the Army for six years and at Madigan for seven months. I am excited to be here."
"This is my second time at a holiday ball and her first," said Spec. Jerod Maertens, who attended with his girlfriend Rachel. "I was happy to be a part of the color guard tonight, and I'm glad she was here."
After dinner and the formal presentations, the ballroom was cleared for the music and dancing to start. "This is our first time at a military holiday ball. It's a fantastic event, very memorable, and we're looking forward to doing it again," said Staff Sgt. Jim Gonzales standing next to his wife, Katherine. "And now we're going to go dance."