FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Sgt. Maj. Stacey Varga smiled as she talked about the strong turnout at Fort Detrick's "Right Arm Night" event on Jan. 24.
"This is probably one of our highest turnouts for Right Arm Night," she said. "Everybody's cross-talking and there's lots of good conversation happening. It's really a great turnout."
The quarterly installation-wide event was the first sponsored by U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command, a new major subordinate command under Army Materiel Command.
An old Army tradition of fellowship and camaraderie, dozens of Soldiers and civilian employees across several Fort Detrick units attended the gathering at the Community Activities Center on post.
"I think it's a really good tradition to bring everyone together," said Capt. Kevin Fitzpatrick, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 21st Signal Brigade. "It's nice that you can relax and get away from the office environment for a little while."
Right Arm Nights encourage leaders to join with those standing to their right -- the ones helping them get through their daily missions -- as a way to build relationships while mixing and mingling with other leaders who, too, have brought their battle buddies.
"It's a great legacy and tradition," said Capt. Ryan Howell, headquarters aide-de-camp for Army Medical Research and Development Command.
Varga said the "big family event" helps bring together members of various military and Department of Defense agencies on the installation for an evening of socialization, food and fun after a long work week.
The top enlisted Soldier with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, a direct-reporting unit of AMLC, Varga also was quick to express appreciation for not just her military and DOD colleagues, but also the civilians and contractors that support the AMLC and broader Army missions.
"We can't do our mission without them," she said.
USAMMA Commander Col. Timothy D. Walsh opened the event with a few remarks, followed by Brig. Gen. Michael J. Talley, commanding general of MRDC and Fort Detrick, who urged attendees to have some fun and enjoy themselves.
"Feel free to let your hair down, if you have any," laughed Talley, who shaves his head.
With upbeat music playing in the background, groups of Soldiers and civilians snacked on some chicken wings provided by Fort Detrick's Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, while others played card games at their tables.
Laughter, cheers and spirited chatter at times took over the room, often following the conclusion of a hotly contested game.
Many gathered around the buffet food and drink stations or the ping pong table, where teams duked it out in the main community center room. In the adjacent game room, the sharp thud of foosballs bouncing off the game table walls could be heard as players manipulated the controls.
Taking a break from chatting with other Soldiers, Howell credited Fort Detrick's tradition of hosting an installation-wide event as a great platform to build relationships and cohesiveness across the different units and commands.
"This one, especially, builds a team of teams," he said. "I see different units here all interacting together."