Cpt. Derrick Ball assumed command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment office during a morning ceremony at Fort Detrick, Maryland, on November 15. Ball replaces outgoing detachment commander Cpt. James Hunt in the role.
“This is a prestigious organization and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Ball, who was joined by his wife and four children during the ceremony, which took place at the Fort Detrick Auditorium. “The onboarding experience here feels like we’re coming home rather than starting a new assignment.”
An Ohio native who previously served as an Army Medical Department recruiter, Ball will step into a role noted for its importance to the overall command structure. The HHD office is tasked with managing issues related to daily Soldier health and overall well-being – everything from record-keeping to Soldier morale, according to Hunt – and is charged with developing and executing a number of command-wide events and activities. Currently, the HHD office is assigned just four full-time positions, requiring the team to stay as flexible and as capable as possible to meet mission goals.
During his own remarks to the assembled crowd – which included, among others, Brig. Gen. Anthony McQueen, Commanding General of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick – Hunt announced his intention to retire, capping a more than 21-year Army career. During that time span he earned a number of accolades, including the 2005 U.S. Veterinary Command Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year award and the 2007 U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command NCO of the Year award. During an especially emotional portion of his speech, Hunt thanked both his USAMRDC team and the larger Army for their support during his leadership tenure at HHD.
“I appreciate your trust and confidence and placing me in a position to lead such a great staff,” said Hunt, who was quick to thank those very same HHD teammates by name during his remarks.
Hunt’s wife Ruth – a retired Master Sgt. herself – and four children joined him at the ceremony. He closed his remarks by praising both USAMRDC and the larger Army, calling his final assignment a fitting capstone to his lengthy career.
“It’s been a great assignment with lots of challenges,” said Hunt. “Fort Detrick is truly one of the Army’s best-kept secrets, and I’ll always look back on my time here with a smile.”