WASHINGTON 1/19/13) – A force of more than 6,000 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen began arriving here Friday in support of the 57th Presidential Inauguration Jan 21. This will make the second largest contingent of Guard personnel to serve in the District for this historic event.
"These dedicated men and women will become part of the 224-years of National Guard presidential support this weekend," said Brig. Gen. Art Hinaman, Commander, Joint Task Force-District of Columbia. "These National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be here to assist in the safety and well-being of inaugural guests."
National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are arriving from 32 states and territories. The bulk of the personnel are from Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Many of the National Guard members performed similar functions during the 2009 inauguration.
"It's a monumental effort, but we are ready and prepared," said Hinaman.
The National Guard is supporting the 2013 Presidential Inauguration with a variety of capabilities. In general, Guardsmen and women will be providing traffic control, crowd management, communications, logistical, medical and ceremonial support.
"America's National Guard is home to a wide variety of capabilities, which can seamlessly integrate with our inter-agency partners for the inauguration," Hinaman said.
A sampling of assignments:
"As the District of Columbia Capital Guardians our Soldiers and Airmen are 'On Guard' for our nation during this exciting and historic time in history," said Hinaman.
The Virgin Island Guard member were among those deputized by an officer from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department in a mass swearing-in ceremony soon after arriving.
"We're not a state, but in the Virgin Islands patriotism is high," said Spc. Orville Osborne, from St. Croix, VI.
Osborne recognized the unique connection between the Virgin Islanders and D.C. Guard members, who also are not affiliated as a state. However, he believes it doesn't matter where they're from since they wear the same uniform as the other Guard members who have come to assist with the event.
"We have the same stories, we joke about basic training," said Osborne.
The contribution of the Citizen-Soldiers is appreciated.
"D.C. is tiny," said Chief Master Sgt. Constantine Acostar, from the 113th Wing, a D.C. National Guard member. "But consider the impact of this tiny little place when it swells with volunteers from around the country. The D.C. Guard can't do it alone."