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NEWS | March 17, 2021

National Guard units supporting Capitol mission return home

By Staff Sgt. Erica Jaros District of Columbia National Guard

WASHINGTON – More than half the 5,000 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who have been supporting the security mission in the nation’s capital since January returned to their home states.

“We’re here to support the mission and support the Capitol. In doing that, we’re doing what all National Guardsmen do: We support our country, we support the states we live in, and that’s our duty,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Craig Hunter, director of operations and plans, District of Columbia National Guard. “The National Guard presence in the Capitol and in the city during this period has been an absolute success.”

National Guard units from all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia provided Soldiers and Airmen to support the U.S. Capitol Police and law enforcement. The National Guard responded on short notice to the request for help.

“It’s kind of a drop and go situation where you just have to be ready,” said U.S. Army Spc. Kaitlyn Bessolo, 1437th Engineer Company, Michigan National Guard. “It gives you an inner sense of pride because you know you’re doing good.”

Some Guard members took on new leadership roles and did things that may not fall into their traditional missions.

“Often, I don’t get to work with other [military occupational specialties], being in the infantry,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mason Gyurina, B Company, 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania National Guard. “I had never worked with females in a squad that I was in charge of and I got to experience that and it went very well.”

As the mission winds down, Guardsmen must transition back to the lives they quickly put on hold.

“For our Soldiers and Airmen ... [having] to juggle both a civilian career as well as their military life and military career, it’s very difficult, but it shows the dedication that the National Guard has,” said Hunter.

While Gyurina and his unit are to begin pre-mobilization training for an upcoming deployment, others are preparing to return to their civilian professions.

“I’m a police officer in Pennsylvania, so I’ll be going back to my full-time job,” said U.S. Army Spc. Destiny Marshall, military police officer, 1069th Military Police Company, Pennsylvania National Guard. “Overall, this was a good experience and I made a lot of friends here.”

To some Soldiers, this mission showed the unity of the National Guard and its ongoing role in supporting national security.

“It was a big deal to the country to show that we’re out there serving them, even though no big events happened, which is a good thing,” said Gyurina. “It was great to see everyone coming together and getting the mission done.”

Approximately 2,000 National Guard members have been asked to continue supporting federal law enforcement agencies with security, communications, medical evacuations, logistics, and safety support through mid-May.

 

 

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