BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho National Guard was tasked with protecting the U.S. Capitol during the presidential inauguration in Washington D.C.
The men and women of Idaho guarded the north and western fence line surrounding the capital, their area of operation stretched around three-quarters of a mile.
“It has been very peaceful, we haven’t seen any major issues at all," said Col. Robert Morris, a chaplain with the Idaho National Guard. "I’ve seen a few protestors here and they were quite pleasant.”
There were around 25,000 national guard members from all over the country in Washington D.C. to help ensure a peaceful transition of power, but for several of the 300 Idaho National Guard members, this marked their first trip to our nation's capital.
“I had a conversation with one young soldier, who told me, 'Sir I can’t believe I’m standing here in the nation’s capital with live rounds.'”
Chaplain Morris told us on the phone it was surreal to see such a large military presence on American soil, but these citizen-soldiers performed their mission with professionalism.
“Not one soldier that I talked to ever mentioned anything about politics or their political alignment," said Col. Morris. "They made it clear they are there to defend the Constitution of the United States, which they swore an allegiance to.”
There were pictures of guard members shacked up in the capital, but the Chaplain told us the Idaho National Guard stayed in a hotel in Virginia.
The Idaho National Guard returned Sunday, but this was a mission they won't forget anytime soon.
“He said, 'man Chaplin how often do you get to guard something this amazing,'" said Col. Morris. "I think many of them were just taken back by the magnitude of protecting our nation’s capital."
The Idaho National Guard also represented Idaho well with how they conducted their mission, and the Chaplain told us to rely a message on how much they appreciate the support they got from people back home.
Gov. Brad Little greeted the Idaho National Guard as they returned Sunday, thanking them for their service and representing Idaho well.
"One of our First Sergeants, Sgt. Prochnow, got to know the Sergeant at Arms for the Senate and was able to arrange some behind-the-scenes tour of the Capitol with some people who work their full time," said Lt. Col. Steve Arnett. "We were able to re-enlist six Idaho soldiers and promote an airman yesterday in the rotunda, which was pretty fantastic." Lt. Col. Arnett says he's thankful the inauguration was peaceful, and that everyone was safe.