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Alaska Guardsmen heading home after assisting with inauguration

Eighty Alaska National Guard soldiers are expected to be in Washington D.C. to help with the...
Eighty Alaska National Guard soldiers are expected to be in Washington D.C. to help with the inauguration.
Published: Jan. 23, 2021 at 6:44 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Over the next few days, Airmen and Soldiers of the Alaska National Guard will be heading back to Alaska, according to a release from JBER.

The Alaska National Guard assisted the District of Columbia National Guard and federal civilian authorities with the 59th Presidential Inauguration, according to a release from the Alaska National Guard.

“We train to be ready at a moment’s notice, when requested to support civil authorities,” said Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, and commissioner for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, in a written statement. “Those partnerships are built on trust and performance, and directly contribute to our success in domestic operations during natural disasters and emergencies.”

Around 70 Alaska National Airmen and Soldiers joined nearly 26,000 Guard members from every state, territory, and District of Columbia to assist with the historic event.

“This showcased our ability to respond quickly with a volunteer force for a real-world mission,” said Saxe. “Our ramp-up to head out, and the experience for the 70 Airmen and Soldiers on the ground only strengthened our ability to serve Alaskans at home.”

Due to COVID-19, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies limited the number of tickets to attend the event.

After the events of Jan. 6, civil authorities agreed that there needed to be a larger presence of National Guardsmen to assist to make sure the event was a success.

While in D.C., they were temporarily stationed inside of a parking garage, as seen in photos that have circulated on social media, but a troop leader for one of the three groups assigned to inaugural duties said the positioning made sense.

“During our duty periods, we have opportunities to take breaks while others swap out with us,” said Ward, the medical readiness officer for the 176th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard. “The day before the inauguration, we were staged in a heated parking garage for about five hours, which was great because it was only 38-degrees outside.” Alaska Airman, Capt. Jennifer Ward is a troop leader for one of Alaska’s three groups assigned with inaugural duties.

Ward said the garage space was clean, had porta-potties, and they were able to rest before going back out.

Ward said, “It’s important to take breaks in areas that are in close proximity to the zone we’ve been assigned so that we can respond quickly if needed, but so far that hasn’t been necessary.”

Military involvement in the Presidential Inauguration dates back 232 years.

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