Three local National Guardsmen aided inauguration security in DC

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Mission accomplished

The 150-member contingent of the Montana National Guard that served a mission in Washington D.C. over a period before and after the Presidential Inauguration of Joe Biden returned home last week. Montana National Guard courtesy photo

Some locals got an up-close look two weeks ago at the most watched and tense presidential inauguration in recent memory—an event they helped keep calm and safe.

“We were kind of heading into an unknown,” said Dillon’s Marcus Osborne of the journey last month that he and his fellow members of the 163rd Infantry Regiment of the Montana National Guard took to Washington D.C. to help provide security for the Jan. 20 US presidential inauguration.

“We didn’t really know what we’d be seeing when we headed over there. So, it was a little bit scary,” said Osborne.

“When I got the call, at first it was all-volunteer, and I couldn’t go because I had to work at the hospital. Then they called a day later and told us it wasn’t volunteer anymore—they said, ‘you’ve gotta pack your bags because you are leaving tomorrow,’” recalled Osborne, whose unit got a few days of training in riot control at Fort Harrison before flying to D.C.

“It was a big moment. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this,” said the five-year veteran of the National Guard.

“I think everyone was really excited to go.” Kiley Smith got a similar call to serve at the inauguration in a different unit—the 484th Military Police Company.

“You definitely, when you get the call, you think, this happened on January 6, and it gets you a little nervous,” said Smith, of the riots that rocked Washington D.C. two weeks before the inauguration when hundreds of protestors invaded the US Capitol building in Washington D.C. in an attempt to prevent the certification of the presidential election results that mandated Joe Biden would replace Donald Trump in the White House on Jan. 20.

“You were constantly—and this is coming from the police officer side of me—you were constantly having to think about the situations you might get into and how you would act in those situations,” recounted Smith, a police officer for the City of Dillon.

“When I was there, even during my down time, I was always thinking about what I would do if this situation arose, or how I would handle that situation. Fortunately, we didn’t have any of that happen,” added Smith, who has spent nine years in the National Guard.

“It was a pretty easy transition of power. I know that there were a few protests that happened, but I didn’t see any. We ran into a few people who didn’t necessarily like that we were there. But everybody just kept a positive outlook, and we just went about our day,” said Smith, a University of Montana Western graduate who became interested in serving in the National Guard during her high school days in Belt.

“I don’t think we could have wished for anything better when we went there,” concluded Smith.

“Being out on mission, we had to be cognizant of what was going on around us,” said Dillon’s Shawn Horner, who participated in National Guard patrols for the U.S. Senate building and got stationed along fences to make sure no one broke through them to disrupt the inauguration.

“We were there for that reason, but nothing really happened while we were there. I didn’t see anything personally,” said Horner, who like Smith and Osborne, did get a chance to do some sightseeing during their 11 days in D.C.

“It was a pretty eye-opening experience. I got to see a lot of stuff I had not before. Just seeing the Capitol building up close—that was by far the coolest thing. I was really impressed by how much bigger it was than I thought,” said Horner of the complex that serves as home to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

“It was great that we got the time when we weren’t working to go out and see the sights,” said Smith, who, like Horner and Osborne, took in tours of Arlington National Cemetery, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

“I have admired our former president Abe Lincoln for a long time, and everything he accomplished when he was president. He made such a big impact in such a short time,” said Smith of the U.S. President during the Civil War in the 1860s.

“I think going there that was the one site I wanted to see, and getting to see it, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It was amazing.”

Osborne said the tributes to soldiers impressed him.

“The changing of guard at Tomb of Unknown Soldier was really awesome. And seeing all the graves at Arlington and all the names on the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—it was really humbling seeing how all these people made that sacrifice. That is something I will never forget,” said Osborne, who serves with the National Guard as a medic, though his first aid skills proved unnecessary in Washington D.C.

“Somebody got a tooth knocked out during our riot training in Helena, but we didn’t have any medical problems in D.C.--other than people being sore. We had to wear vests with armor plates, so that led to some sore backs, but otherwise nothing else,” said Osborne, who enjoyed his time in D.C., but was glad to return home.

“Coming from Dillon and going to a big city, there is a buzz to that. It is exciting just walking around a big city like Washington D.C. But a week there is good enough to me. I was ready to get home. It was great getting back to Dillon.”