Story by Patricia Beal on 06/14/2019WOMACK ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, FORT BRAGG, N.C. Womack personnel gathered by the Weaver Auditorium to celebrate the U.S. Army's 244th birthday at noon today.
Vice Adm. Raquel C. Bono, Defense Health Agency Director, joined Womack's youngest and oldest Soldiers, Pvt. Erica Mercado and Lt. Col. Brian Thomas respectively, in the traditional cutting of the Army birthday cake.
Standing by two additional cakes, WAMC Commander Col. John Melton and Command Sgt. Maj. Wendell Mullen cheered them on.
Melton joked about having a Navy admiral cut the cake at the "Army center of the universe," and the crowd of almost 100 chuckled.
"I've had a lot of Army in my life," said Bono, whose grandfather served in the Army. "It's an honor, and I'm tickled to be here. Army strong!"
The day was full of celebration, as Bono and the WAMC leadership had just returned from the Unified Professional Education Commencement at Fayetteville State University in which she was the guest speaker and approximately 50 Army officers received different residency degrees.
This was the first Army birthday celebration for Mercado, who is 18 years old and has been in the Army for six months.
"It's an honor to be up there with high-ranking officers," said the North Carolina native who will finish her Advanced Individual Training in the summer and report to Fort Campbell, Ky., in August as an operating room specialist.
While the ceremony was short and filled with laughter and fun, it was an opportunity to pause and consider the importance of the medical mission.
"So much service has gone into these 244 years," Melton said. He talked about the words on the DHA logo "pro cura militis" or "for the care of the Soldier" and mentioned the recent anniversary of D-Day.
The theme for this year's Army birthday observance is "America's Army: Honoring the Call to Service from D-Day to Today."
Seventeen additional cakes were cut at multiple WAMC facilities today, and three more will be cut at the hospital tonight for the night shift.