More than 7,500 National Guard members from 44 states, territories and the District of Columbia were on hand Jan. 20 to support the 58th presidential inauguration.
January 20, 2017 - Army Spc. Shaleek Blackman, left, with the Delaware Army National Guard’s 153rd Military Police Company; and Army Staff Sgt. Eric Stunkard, with the Delaware Army Guard’s 262nd Component Repair Company keep an eye out as crowds make their way to the National Mall for the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. The soldiers were among more than 7,500 National Guard members from 44 states, territories and the District of Columbia who supported local authorities during the inauguration. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erich B. Smith (DoD News photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Erich B. Smith)
"This is the Super Bowl event for the District of Columbia National Guard," said Army Lt. Col. Nicole L. Brugato, a personnel officer at the National Guard Bureau who was part of the joint task force supporting the event.
Soldiers and airmen provided security, crowd control, traffic management, and logistics and communications capabilities while working with the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department, among other agencies.
"It [the inaugural event] took so many integral parts, so many pieces for it to come out smoothly," said Army Pfc. Michael Arthur, a military police officer with the Louisiana Army National Guard's 239th Military Police Company, who worked with officers from the Transportation Security Administration at a checkpoint along the inaugural parade route.
While boots on the ground played a key role in ensuring safety and security, Guard members could be found underground, as well. Army Sgt. John Garnett, with the Tennessee Army National Guard's 251st Military Police Company, worked with officers from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority providing added security in subway stations near the U.S. Capitol.
For Garnett, the day was an exercise in being "vigilant and resilient, and dedicated to keeping everyone as safe as possible."
Other Guard members had similar thoughts on the day.
"Our job here is to defend and enforce the laws of our nation, and help with the smooth transition of presidential power," said Army Sgt. Kurtis Brown, with the South Dakota Army National Guard's 235th Military Police Company.
January 20, 2017 - Army Sgt. Kurtis Brown, a military police officer with the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 235th Military Police Company, answers questions from a spectator near a checkpoint during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. Brown was one of more than 7,500 National Guard members from 44 states, territories and the District of Columbia who supported local authorities during the inauguration. (DoD News photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Erich B. Smith)
Air Force Master Sgt. Heidi Gibson, a service specialist with the Florida Air National Guard's 202nd Redhorse Squadron, said remaining flexible was a key element needed throughout the day.
"This is about teamwork and communication and [being] willing to take on anything [while] making adjustments," she said.
In addition to providing support to local authorities, about 100 Guard members provided traditional ceremonial support, including marching in the inaugural parade.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Wayne L. Bowser, the senior enlisted advisor of the District of Columbia National Guard, said he hoped young soldiers and airmen left with a sense of fulfillment and pride from taking part in the inauguration.
"There is a small percentage of folks who wear the uniform," he said. "There is a smaller [percentage] who will get a chance to be a part of this type of event."
The National Guard's presence in the presidential inauguration dates to 1789, when local militia units and members of the regular Army took part in George Washington's inaugural events in New York City.
By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Erich B. Smith
Comment on this article