FORT HOOD, Texas -- "To the King of Battle!"
This response to a toast proposed to the U.S. field artillery roared throughout the banquet hall during the Saint Barbara's Day Ball, recently hosted by the 1st "Dragon" Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, in Killeen, Texas.
At the ball, Soldiers, spouses and distinguished guests dressed their best and paid tribute to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of field artillery.
Saint Barbara wasn't the only honoree at the event. Twenty-one Soldiers were awarded the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara and eight spouses were awarded the Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher.
Soldiers receiving the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara were recognized for their hard work and contributions to field artillery by demonstrating competence, integrity, moral character and going above and beyond the call of duty.
The Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher recognized spouses of field artillery Soldiers who contributed to the field artillery community by supporting their Soldiers.
"It signifies long-standing contributions to the field artillery and the field artillery community, commitment to excellence, and selfless service," said Lt. Col. Richard Ng, the Dragon commander.
Ng, a Tampa, Fla., native, said he felt honored and privileged to recognize the 21 Soldiers.
Staff Sgt. Russell Sanchez, a Dragon field artillery automated tactical data systems specialist, didn't know until the night of the ball that he was receiving the award he strived for his entire career.
"To me that was a shocker," said Sanchez, a Fayetteville, N.C., native, "(For) 10 years I've bled, sweat and cried for artillery … It was just something I've truly worked for."
Sanchez said he loves artillery, and after ten years he understands what it means to contribute.
"Every day I woke up and just tried to be the best I can to get there," Sanchez said, smiling.
The award ceremony took place after dinner, and no ball would be complete without traditional festivities.
Nine toasts rang through the room, one being a silent toast to fallen comrades, after New York native, Sgt. Betsy Rodriguez, a Dragon combat medic, set the Missing Man Table.
After the formal portion of the ball concluded, the lights were dimmed, and Soldiers were invited to bring their dates to the dance floor.