WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Utah National Guard members are being sent to Washington, D.C. ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The 350 troops flew out of Salt Lake City on Friday and will be among the more than 20,000 from other states responding to assist the Washington D.C. National Guard.
The nation's capital has been on heightened security since last week when a group of Trump supporters breached the Capitol building.
These troops are being sent to "protect lives, preserve property, protect critical infrastructure, and the right to peacefully assemble," a press release from the Guard stated, on Wednesday and possibly in the days leading up to the inauguration.
Utah Air National Guard’s 130th Engineering Installation Squadron will also be assisting with the event, providing "Joint Incident Site Communication Capability."
“The Utah National Guard has responded to domestic emergencies on an unprecedented level this past year. We are proud to support our partners and serve our fellow Americans once again,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, the adjutant general of the Utah National Guard. “Every member of the Utah National Guard is committed to our national and military values and our oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Major Mangum is an experienced officer who is headed there along with his fellow troops.
“I spent a little time in Iraq, some time in Afghanistan, I’ve had some over seas training opportunities in Korea and the Philippines,” he said, but added that this mission “may be one of the most difficult deployments we have because we are dealing with fellow citizens.”
Specialist McArthur, another soldier shipping out Friday, agrees that this is different, but as this is his first deployment with the Guard, he doesn’t have much to compare it to.
Both men told FOX 13 that they hope the would-be protesters will see that the National Guard troops are there for them.
"We're your neighbors. We're your friends,” McArthur said.
Mangum had a similar sentiment.
"The name 'National Guard' … that tells them right away, we're their neighbors. We're the citizen soldiers,” he said.
All of the troops we spoke with said they were excited to see the inauguration and looked forward to a mission in our nation's capital.
“Personally, I think it's going to be pretty peaceful. I think it's going to go off very well,” Magnum said.