Osan Air Base celebrates the patron saint of artillery

Osan Air Base celebrates the patron saint of artillery

by Capt. Jonathon Daniell
U.S. Army

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea - The 7th Air Force commander, Soldiers across the Korean Peninsula and selfless spouses were honored at the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment Saint Barbara's Ball Jan. 19 at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, the 7th Air Force commander, humored the crowd with his account of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system's arrival in the Republic of Korea and shared vignettes of the ROK-U.S. ironclad alliance as the guest speaker.

"The Korean Airpower team brings critical offensive and defensive capabilities to the alliance," said Bergeson. "This symbiotic relationship gives us a tremendous asymmetric advantage. It forces the enemy to face unsolvable problems and forms the foundation of Korea's airpower team."

Bergeson was presented with the Honorable Order of St. Barbara, a decoration given to those that significantly contribute to the artillery community, while his wife, Pam, received the Honorable Order of Molly Pitcher, an award bestowed upon those that volunteer to improve the ADA community.

The 35th ADA Brigade recognized 12 Soldiers with the Honorable Order of St. Barbara, while the 3rd BCD inducted three members, respectively. Four spouses from the 35th ADA Brigade were also presented with the Honorable Order of Molly Pitcher.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Ferguson, communication noncommissioned officer in charge and Maj. Wilbert Thibodeaux, communications officer in charge, both from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 35th ADA Brigade, received the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara.

Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Graley, HHB S4 NCOIC; Capt. Welvin Lucero, HHB commander; Capt. Robert Tuttle, Delta Battery commander; Sgt. 1st Class Gus Roberts, D-2 platoon sergeant and Capt. Dwayne Solomon, D-2 commander, all of 2-1 ADA Battalion, were presented with the Honorable Order of St. Barbara.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Angelo Alarcon, HHB maintenance officer; Capt. Michael Balaban, HHB commander; Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Douglas, Alpha Battery platoon sergeant; Capt. Michael Nizolak, Charlie Battery commander and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edward St. Clair, HHB standardization officer, all of 6-52 ADA Battalion, were awarded the Honorable Order of St. Barbara.

Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Greenwood, ground liaison NCO; Sgt. 1st Class Michael Moore, battle systems manager and Sgt. 1st Class Kevin R. Pelayo, operations NCOIC, all from the 3rd BCD, were presented with the Honorable Order of St. Barbara.

Erin Nizolak, C Battery, 6-52 ADA Battalion family readiness group leader; Karina Lucero, HHB, 2-1 ADA Battalion FRG leader; Kaitlyn Yates, Echo Battery, 2-1 ADA Battalion FRG leader and Erica Wong, HHB, 35th ADA Brigade FRG advisor, received the Honorable Order of Molly Pitcher for their dedicated volunteer service in support of the artillery branch.

"It was an honor to be inducted into the Honorable Order of Molly Pitcher," said Erin Nizolak. "But it has been even more of an honor, not to mention a genuine joy, to give back to the service members and families while stationed here."

The ball was held at the Osan Enlisted Club on Osan Air Base with nearly 400 guests in attendance and a handful of key people ensured the night ensued without a hitch.

"The culmination of the ball is a testament to so many people working together," said Capt. Carly Field, HHB, 35th ADA Brigade, assistant officer in charge of planning the event. "We received a lot of positive feedback, so I'm confident we did our job and everyone had fun."

The 35th ADA Brigade and 3rd BCD honor guard, who were adorned in uniforms of decades past, captured the gaze of every guest as they marched in formation. While the Eighth Army jazz ensemble, along with Spc. Ana K. Rodriguez, Eighth Army band vocalist, added layers of sophistication and pageantry to the night.

The namesake of the ball derives from the Patron Saint of artillerymen. As the story goes, St. Barbara, while banished to isolation by her father, embraced Christianity against her father's approval. Dioscorus, her father, failed to sway her into denouncing her faith and condemned her to death by beheading.

Dioscorus, infuriated with his daughter's belief, carried out the execution himself, ultimately leading to his own demise. For his heinous act, he was struck by lightning and died instantly.

St. Barbara is celebrated throughout the fires community for her ability to strike adversaries from above and artillery units across the military pay her homage for continued safety and wellbeing.

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