NEWS | Jan. 23, 2017

Guard members reflect on their inauguration duties

By Tech. Sgt. Erich B. Smith National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 7,500 National Guard members from 44 states, territories and the District of Columbia were on hand Friday to support the 58th Presidential Inauguration.

"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. "Everybody from a private first class to [our] chief of staff is energized and this is our opportunity to truly be the president's Guard."

Soldiers and Airmen provided security, crowd control, traffic management, and logistics and communications capabilities while working with the Secret Service, United States Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, 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 Police providing added security in subway stations near the Capitol building.

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.

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.

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.