WASHINGTON, DC (09/19/2017) (readMedia)-- Story by Army Staff Sgt. G.H. Cureton, District of Columbia National Guard
WASHINGTON-Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, joined hundreds of District of Columbia area military members and their guests for an evening of fellowship and celebration at the 2017 District of Columbia National Guard Military Ball on Sept. 16 in Washington, D.C.
McMaster, the event's keynote speaker, recognized military members, their spouses and families for their service and sacrifice. He singled out the National Guard for the critical role Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen play in support of the nation in time of conflict and disaster.
"All of you are critical to our nation," McMaster said. "At a critical time, not only for our nation but really for all of humanity. Just look at what our National Guard has done in the recent weeks. Fifteen thousand Guardsmen have been called into action to support and respond to Hurricane Harvey, while more than 1,100 were-at the same time-fighting wildfires in Montana."
McMaster supported his main point by mentioning that the National Guard would be on the ground and in the air helping secure the 72nd U.N. General Assembly.
"We need you. We need Citizen-Soldiers more than ever," McMaster added.
The Military Ball is the D.C. National Guard's annual formal event. It featured the customary toasts to the nation and its leaders both civilian and military. There was also a tribute to honor American prisoners of war and missing in action.
The eyes of more than 800 guests focused on an empty, symbolically decorated table, to the left of the stage. Five senior noncommissioned officers from each military branch placed a service hat, from their respective branch, on the table. After the Vietnam War, the POW/MIA table has become a part of military banquets. The table is a reminder that the strength of those who fight today, rests in remembrance of those who fought and have yet been accounted for.
During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. William J. Walker, acting commanding general, District of Columbia National Guard, surprised retired Army Col. Sherwood D. Goldberg, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for the District of Columbia, with an honorary promotion to brigadier general in the District of Columbia Militia. Goldberg received the honor in recognition for his decades of service post his military career.
An event of this size and scope takes a dedicated team, and months of planning according to Lt. Col. Tunstall Wilson, D.C. Army National Guard director of logistics, who has served as the ball committee chair for three years.
"The ball is the result of the hard work and dedication of the committee," Wilson said. "Months of planning and long hours have gone into preparing for this major D.C. National Guard event. I thank them for all they have done to make this a success. They did a phenomenal job. Everyone has come to me and said it has been a fabulous event."
For Air Force, Senior Airman Patrick Chumbiray, a 113th Wing, Security Forces Specialist, this was his first ball as an Airman after serving in the Marine Corps.
"It's [the ball] amazing, it's beautiful," Chumbiray said. "I have seen the armory without all the decorations, and the transformation is very nice. I am glad I was able to bring my fiancé and share this event with her."
The next ball is scheduled for May 2018. This will coincide with the 216th birthday of the D.C. National Guard.