Nearly 400 Oklahoma National Guard members on ground in Washington D.C. are expected to return to the Sooner State soon following the successful inauguration of President Joe Biden.
“Ultimately, when we take our oath, it is to defend the constitution, and that’s what we’re doing here,” Oklahoma Army National Guard Lt. Tomas Meget said. “We’re ensuring there’s a peaceful transfer of power, which is one of the fundamental aspects of why we have been successful as a nation.”
Many of the Oklahomans now in D.C. have served in the Ukraine, hurricane disaster zones and under civil unrest.
“They pulled guardsmen from almost every state,” Meget said. “Whenever the guard is mobilized, there’s empty chairs throughout our community. The barber’s gone. The schoolteacher’s gone, the police officer, the lawyer.”
The armed Oklahoma troops were tasked with guarding the inner perimeter of the Capitol complex behind many layers of fortification.
“We’re just here to support the District of Columbia and federal authorities throughout the inauguration,” Capt. Brendon Galvin said.
The Oklahoma soldiers and airmen said living conditions surpassed expectations. They stayed in Washington Metro hotels and had three warm meals since their Sunday arrival.
For many, it was their first time in Washington.
“It’s really surreal, actually seeing all of these historical monuments in person,” Spc. Rainey Jackson said.
“To actually get to physically see them, it kind of brings in a whole new honorable perspective,” Staff Sgt. Gabriel Diaz said.
For others, it’s their first time back in the District since grade school.
“Then I was a spectator and now, I guess I’m a participant in events that are unfolding,” Meget said.
While the activation to the nation’s capital is different from prior missions, the Oklahoma guardsmen said the meaning behind it is the same.
“It is quite a true honor to be here,” Diaz said.
Leading up to the inauguration, security, even among soldiers, was tightened after a dozen guardsmen were removed from their duties for various reasons. None of those troops were from Oklahoma.