Guardsmen said they weren't sure what to expect when they left Oklahoma to help Washington D.C. authorities with the 59th Presidential Inauguration, but they are glad things went off without a hitch.
“We didn't know what it was going to look like. We didn't know if there was going to be a lot of protests. We didn't know if it was going to be quiet. We didn't know what we didn't know,” Col. Robert Walter said. “All we knew was we're going to do our job. We did it without incident, fortunately, and everyone went home safely.”
About 400 Oklahoma soldiers join around 25,000 guardsmen in D.C. in response to potential security threats during the transfer of power to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“We were on the southeast corner of the Capitol, so we didn't get to see the actual inauguration, but what we did get to see was President Biden come across from the westside to the eastside to assume command of the armed forces,” Lt. Col. Michael Scanlon said. “Obviously, that has particular significance to us.”
Captain Brendon Galvin said he has attended a presidential inauguration before, but this was his first time participating. His experience is one he plans on sharing with his son one day.
“An event where I can tell my son when he gets older that I was there,” Capt. Galvin said. “I was helping to do all the security missions and stuff like that, it's kind of powerful to me. I mean, he's going to be learning about it and it's first-hand experience to me. I can't explain it it's a really great feeling.”
Before taking off to D.C, the guardsmen were tested for COVID-19. For the most part, troops stayed with their group.
The Oklahoma National Guard said there are safety measures in place to make sure everyone is safe before they return to work and home with their families.
All guardsmen received a rapid COVID-19 test on Saturday. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be isolated.