Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oregon Guardsmen join Soldiers, Airmen from across the country to help with inaugural festivities, ceremony

Above photo: Oregon Army National Guard Master Sgt. Thomas Hovie, (center, right) of Salem, Ore., videotapes Guardsmen practicing for the inaugural parade set for President-Elect Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Hovie is one of six Oregon Guardsmen to travel to the nation's capital to assist with the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Rutherford, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office
Four Soldiers and two Airmen from the Oregon National Guard traveled to Washington, D.C. to assist with President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration activities on Jan. 20.

The six public affairs specialists are already documenting this historic event on video and still pictures, as well as telling the story of how National Guard members from across the country are providing security and logistical support for what may be the largest inauguration ceremony in the history of our country.

More than 9,000 men and women from National Guard units across the country are providing support during the 56th Presidential Inauguration--the largest contribution to an inauguration in the Guard's history.

"The National Guard will help to ensure a safe and secure environment for all attendees," said Manny Pacheco, spokesperson for the National Guard Bureau.

National Guard members from several different states and the District of Columbia are working for Joint Task Force-District of Columbia. Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen are providing communications, transport, traffic control and medical and logistical support - as well as playing music and marching in the inaugural parade.

"[The] National Guard personnel will help quite a bit," Cathy Lanier, the District of Columbia's police chief, said last week. "[They] help us... keep law enforcement focused on law enforcement."

The Guard's support to civilian authorities works well because relationships are already well-established through previous events and shared training exercises.

"They know that we will be there and that we will perform professionally, no matter what the situation," Brig. Gen. Barbaranette Bolden, commander, Joint Task Force-District of Columbia said.

The National Guard Bureau participates in Armed Forces Inaugural Committee efforts while coordinating the support provided by theNational Guard with federal and state civil authorities. A joint operations center is being staffed around the clock through the inauguration.

The National Guard has a long history of supporting presidential inaugurations. Local militia units marched with George Washington as he proceeded to his first inauguration on April 30, 1789, according to Guard historians.

"The National Guard is proud to continue this tradition of supporting and defending both the President of the United States, our constitutional form of government, and our American way of life," Pacheco said.

Guardmembers are proud of their role helping ensure a safe and secureenvironment for the event, Bolden added.

"Every Soldier and Airman that comes here will be sharing this historic event with their families for many years to come," she said.

The troops from the Oregon National Guard include:

- Capt. Mike Odle from the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, a resident of Montana.

- Master Sgt. Tom Hovie from the Joint Force Headquarters in Salem, a resident of Salem.

- Sgt. Patrick Lair from the 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment inSalem, a resident of Sweet Home.

- Sgt. Eric Rutherford from JFHQ in Salem, a resident of Turner.

- Staff Sgt. John Hughel of the 142nd Fighter Wing in Portland, resident of Portland.
- Spc. Matthew Mikolas, a broadcast journalist with the 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, a resident of Portland, Ore.
This post was adapted from a story composed by Maj. Michael Braibish, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Officer.

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