FORT DRUM, N.Y. - Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team held their annual Spring Ball on March 26 at the Fort Drum Commons.

Unit balls are an opportunity for Soldiers of all ranks to come together, share unit traditions and allow their spouses to meet the people with whom they work and deploy.

"It is a way for officers and noncommissioned officers to get together and share traditions," said Capt. Andrew Harris, commander, A Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment.

Unit balls are rich with tradition and formalities. Commanders and sergeants major had a receiving line where they met Soldiers' spouses and welcomed them to the event.

"The Army has a lot of tradition, and if we don't keep them up, they will be gone," said Col. David Haight, 3rd BCT commander. "Unit balls are fun and help us (to) keep up the important traditions."

In the ballroom, tables were set for guests to sit and enjoy their meals and drinks, with one table set as the place of honor. This table was left empty to honor Soldiers who fell in combat and were not able to join their comrades for dinner. The empty table has a full setting with a glass and a plate. The plate has salt to represent the tears of their loved ones and a slice of lemon to represent their bitter sacrifice. A red ribbon is tied around the glass to symbolize the blood that fallen Soldiers sacrificed.

"The Army is steeped in tradition," Haight said. "It's our way of remembering our fallen and our history."

The brigade chaplain led the guests in an opening prayer, thanking God for the safe return of 3rd BCT Soldiers from Afghanistan and the opportunity for them to come together.

Soldiers were led in a series of toasts to the country, the Army, unit and finally to the ladies.
"I came down to support my unit and have fun with my wife," said Spc. Brian Oakwood, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd BCT.

To bring the history of the 10th Mountain Division into focus, every battalion commander participated in creating the "grog" or a bowl of punch that each unit adds to, symbolizing every unit bringing something different to the fight.

Everything added to the grog had a correlation to the unit history, such as the addition of Italian liquor to symbolize the division's role in WWII. Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, was the first try the grog, and then guests were invited to sample it.

Not only does the unit ball give Soldiers a chance to share traditions, it gives them a chance to have fun at a formal event with their spouses.

After the unit traditions were recognized, Soldiers and their spouses were served dinner and given a chance to dance and have fun.