By Hiro Chang Presidio of Monterey Public AffairsJune 14, 2009
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - The 229th Military Intelligence Battalion hosted the 234th Army birthday ball June 13 in Seaside.
The ball's theme, "The Year of the NCO," was celebrated with centerpieces created by the battalion's companies and a traditional cake-cutting by the oldest and youngest Soldier, Col. Sue Ann Sandusky and Pvt. Benjamin Masterson respectively.
Masterson, who was born Aug. 1991, was slightly daunted at having to cut the cake with the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center commandant.
"I don't have contact with officers too often, but Col. Sandusky is a very nice woman, so it wasn't too bad," said Masterson.
This was also the first Army ball the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho-native has ever attended.
"It was great," said Masterson. "It was different getting to interact with the different (non-commissioned officers) and officers."
For A Co. 229th Military Intelligence Battalion's Masterson, the event was made more special with the arrival of his fiancAfAe, Catherine Aylward, who came from her home of Athol, Idaho to accompany him.
"She was very supportive (of me joining), and she might be joining as well in the future," said Masterson.
The young couple also got to request and dance to try out future wedding songs like "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," by Aerosmith.
Army balls are something that is steeped in tradition with this one being no exception said Maj. Alexander Marrone, who headed the organization of the ball.
"It's tradition, history and a time for NCOs, officers and (lower enlisted) to get together in a social setting," Marrone said.
For the students, there is little time to socialize, so the ball gives them a chance to see each other in a more social setting.
The ball featured the Military Intelligence Regiment's top enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Gerardus Wykoff, speak on past NCOs and remembering the first "Year of the NCO" (which was 1989).
For Masterson, who also led the toast for the fallen Soldiers, the experience helped him to appreciate his choice to join the Army.
" ... (Its) a new way of life," said Masterson. "(The Army) keeps me in line and (being a linguist) is a good career path."