Starting at 3:30 a.m. on the Monday, more than 150 soldiers and airmen from across Tennessee were in position to support D.C. law enforcement agencies with crowd management.
Stationed at 12 Metro mass transit rail stations near the capitol building and the inaugural parade route, their mission was to help manage the flow of visitors through Metro stations.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are using the subways to get to the event, many more than normal,” said Capt. Mitch Thompson, commander of the 269th Military Police Company in Murfreesboro.
“The large crowds are a big concern, and we’re there to help the various D.C. police agencies maintain everyone’s safety.”
The majority of the Guardsmen assisting in the nation’s Capitol are U.S. Army Military Police officers and Air Force Security Forces members.
“We’re all well-trained professionals,” Thompson said. “Many of us have worked at events like this before, to include the 2009 inauguration, and we also trained our personnel before arriving here. On the 19th of January, we were all deputized by the District of Columbia.”
“It was an amazing opportunity for us to participate in such a historic event,” said Maj. Wade Reed of Athens’ 117th Military Police Battalion.
“We’re proud to assist the local police keeping citizens safe; it’s what we train to do.”
Throughout the day, the soldiers interacted with thousands of visitors who came to witness the event.
“Everyone we seemed to meet was excited,” said Thompson. “They thanked us for our service, shook our hands, took pictures with us, and listened to the directions we were giving at our stations.”
Along with assisting police at the Metro stations, an additional 50 soldiers from Ripley’s 268th Military Police Company worked with the United States Secret Service by manning 25 posts around the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the site of both inaugural balls. The Tennesseans assisted with security and crowd management for the 40,000 expected guests.
“They performed numerous functions throughout the evening,” said Master Sgt. Jason Smith of the 268th. “We’re real proud of our soldiers.”
The Tennessee Army National Guard provides soldiers from across the state, but the forces are primarily coming from the 268th Military Police Company in Ripley and Dyersburg, as well as the 252nd Military Police Company in Cleveland and Oneida.
The Tennessee Air National Guard sent Security Forces personnel from the 134th Security Forces Squadron in Knoxville and the 118th Security Forces Squadron in Nashville.
All units supported the District of Columbia National Guard as part of a Task Force of roughly 6,000 Army and Air National Guard members from 26 states and territorie