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Among the approximately 26,000 National Guard troops who helped secure Washington, D.C. for the inauguration are 500 from Massachusetts.
Lt. Col. Tom Clark of Dartmouth is commanding the Massachusetts National Guard contingent, known as Task Force Americal, in the nation's capital. The troops arrived Saturday.
Clark spoke with WBUR's All Things Considered host Lisa Mullins about the mission.
On where he was during the inauguration Wednesday:
"We were assigned to provide security for the House of Representatives, and we were mostly focused on their office buildings. So the Cannon [House] Office Building, the Longworth and the Rayburn [House] Office Building, and the surrounding grounds. So we were not on the Capitol grounds proper.
"Our primary mission was to provide support to the U.S. Capitol Police. And so they are always in the lead ... Our overall mission was to provide security, as I'm sure you saw [in] some of the photos of the security presence along Independence Avenue and through the different streets that intersect with the office buildings. We basically manned the perimeter and then provided the outer perimeter of this security operation."
On what it's like to be called up to Washington, D.C. to defend the U.S. Capitol and the Constitution:
"Every soldier and airman swears an oath when they enlist or are commissioned into the armed services. And the oath is to protect and defend the Constitution. ... A lot of us have served overseas and we go where we're told to go. And so there was tremendous pride when we were asked to come to Washington, D.C. by Gov. Baker and Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe, the adjutant general of the Mass. National Guard. We are just so honored to be able to provide the security which allows for the peaceful transfer of power.
"The overwhelming sense among the soldiers here was that of pride. They've worked long hours — a lot of lack of sleep. But I can't tell you how much they keep smiling, because they are valued, because they're able to provide the service. And it's something that I think, you know, looking back, that these young 18-, 25-, 30-year-old soldiers and airmen will take great pride long into the future, that when there was this time of uncertainty, that they were able to bring a sense of calm so that this great event could go off without a hitch. And I know I also take great pride in that."
This segment aired on January 20, 2021.
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