An organization that keeps tradition alive came to a place that never stops preparing for the future.

Members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts toured facilities at the Natick Soldier Systems Center March 23. Established in 1638, the company is known as the third-oldest chartered military organization in the world and the Western Hemisphere's oldest.

At one time, the company trained officers for various Massachusetts militias. Four U.S. presidents and eight Medal of Honor recipients have been in its ranks. Today, the organization concerns itself with preserving historic and patriotic traditions.

Split into two groups, the 42 company members visited the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate, Aerial Delivery, the Doriot Climatic Chambers and the Quad. They later had lunch at the Lord Community Center.

Lieutenant Colonel Brian Wood, executive officer of NSSC, welcomed the group and gave an overview of the installation.

"We've been around for 58 years," Wood said. "I think we were established about 368 years after you were. You have a lot more history than we do, but we love our distinguished history here, as well. We're the science behind the Soldier."

Throughout the day, company members - many of whom served in the military - asked astute questions during the briefings. They came away impressed by what they had seen.

"It's a beautiful campus," said Jack Moynihan, the company commander. "It's interesting how much in depth you guys really go."

George Bruno Jr. had a better idea of what happens at Natick. A retired Army sergeant major who served with the Quartermaster Corps, Bruno had been assigned to nearby Fort Devens in the mid 1970s and helped test new uniforms.

"We came down here and got fitted for them, and we wore them for two years, anyway," Bruno said. "And we made reports on them."

Still, Bruno was unprepared for how NSSC had changed.

"I've seen things here today that I can only have imagined," Bruno said. "We've progressed. This is just fantastic."