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Utah National Guard members reflect on busy year of service

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jan 28, 2021

MURRAY, Utah — Within the last 12 months, the Utah National Guard has rendered more service than any prior year.

From the pandemic, natural disasters and civil unrest, leaders tell FOX13 the last year has been “absolutely unprecedented.”

In the middle of the night Wednesday, 400 Utah National Guard soldiers arrived home. For two weeks, they offered security for the presidential inauguration in Washington DC.

Read: Utah National Guard members return home after Inauguration deployment

“I think it's be safe to say that there was a sense of relief that nothing took place on the day of the inauguration,” said 128th Mobile Public Affairs Attachment Captain Jeffrey Dallin Belnap said.

The atypical assignment is the latest in an extremely busy year for the volunteer guard members.

"I've never done anything like this before. You know, I've been deployed once I've been overseas but haven't done a mission like this,” said Capt. Belnap.

Within the last year, 1,500 Utah National Guard members responded to domestic emergencies.

“All of guard nation has absolutely recognized, this is an unprecedented year to say the least,” said Col. Steven Fairbourn.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 400 members have helped with COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and issuing PPE for the state.

Read: Utah National Guard helps vaccination rollout in Utah County

Six-hundred and 50 members were deployed to help the state during summer protests in downtown Salt Lake City, with 300 protecting the Utah Capitol during the inauguration.

Two hundred members cleaned up damage after the hurricane-force windstorm and 5.7 earthquake.

Read: Governor declares state of emergency in Utah following destructive windstorm

All while approximately 900 members deployed for contingency operations abroad.

"It has been a challenging year but the one thing I can speak to is our folks are so resilient, so well-trained and so dedicated to the safety and well-being of our local community and our nation at large that they still have plenty of fuel in the tank,” said Col. Fairbourn.