The last of the 300 Connecticut National Guard members deployed to Washington D.C. last week returned home Monday after a highly unusual, but relatively quiet, mission to secure the nation’s capital for President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony.
The contingent joined more than 26,000 guard members from across the country to prevent violent demonstrations in Washington in the wake of the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.
But with enormous security measures in place, no such demonstrations materialized and none of the Connecticut guard members encountered disturbances at their posts along various checkpoints near the Capitol complex, the guard said Monday.
“Obviously, we were prepared for the worst,” said Maj. James Locke, 143rd Military Police Company Commander. “We weren’t necessarily expecting it. I was hoping that things would be as quiet as they’ve been.”
Gov. Ned Lamont approved the deployment as governors across the country agreed to support a massive inauguration security presence in the week after pro-Trump mobs seiged the U.S. Capitol while Congress met to certify the results of the presidential election. Federal officials had warned more violence could follow around the inauguration as pro-Trump groups planned additional demonstrations, but that did ultimately did not occur on a large scale.
The Connecticut contingent included members of the guard’s military police and two canine teams dual-trained for both patrol and explosive detection, in addition to ambulances and other supplies. Members of the 143rd Military Police Company worked at four security checkpoints around the Capitol grounds but encountered very few pedestrians, let alone civil unrest.
The national guard is accustomed to using its special training to respond to disasters, but usually natural disasters and storm response. The security assignments around the inauguration were like nothing Locke, with 18 years in the guard, or Sgt. 1st Class James Van Mameren, with 15 years in the guard, had ever seen, they said.
“I did not expect to be doing something like this,” said Van Mameren, acting platoon sergeant assigned to the 143rd Military Police Company. “I thought we were mostly used for storm response or for things back home in Connecticut. But the nation called, and they needed people in the National Guard from all across the country to come here and help do a mission.”
Zach Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.