HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii National Guard has wrapped up its mission at the U.S. Capitol and will be heading home this weekend. Hawaii’s members say they had a great experience and called it an honor to serve despite reports that some troops were cast aside after the inauguration.
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Some 200 Hawaii National Guard members went to Washington D.C. to provide security for the president’s inauguration. Their battalion commander calls it an eye-opening experience, working with troops from other states and different divisions of law enforcement — including the Secret Service.
“They were really great professionals and happy to have us here and it was a great experience for our guys to work with all these agency partners,” said Lt. Col. David Hatcher, Battalion Commander.
Hatcher says Hawaii’s contingent provided security at bridges heading to Washington D.C. leading up to Inauguration Day. They were among the 25,000 troops called up in response to the riots on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
There were reports that some soldiers were forced to sleep in the Capitol garage after the inauguration. Hatcher says, all Hawaii soldiers were provided with hotel rooms.
“I understand what the pictures look like out there, but it seemed to be blown out of proportion. It was more a staging area for soldiers to rest when they’re not actively on post,” said Hatcher.
Sen. Mazie Hirono says, Congress will be looking into the incident and tweeted, “We will get to the bottom of what happened here and hold those responsible accountable.” There are also fears that it will become a super spreader event because they were kept in close quarters.
“So we just made sure we kept our masks on. We will be doing COVID screenings for all our personnel to make sure nobody is showing any symptoms before we do fly home,” said Hatcher.
He says, the troops were also screened when they arrived in D.C. and added that they are looking forward to going home to their families. He says, most of them have never been to D.C. and were honored when Hawaii’s Congressional delegation met with them on Thursday, Jan. 21.
“To be at the steps of the Capitol yesterday, talking with their Congressional representatives, when last week they were in Hawaii and had no idea they will even be here in D.C., it’s special to see and special for my young soldiers to interact,” said Hatcher.