La. National Guard troops assisting with today’s inauguration

Rita LeBleu

The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the U.S. will look different than any other to date. In-person attendance will be historically low. The number of security personnel, historically high. One hundred and seventy-four Louisiana National Guard soldiers and airmen will be part of that history.

“Along with everyone else sacrificing time away from family and occupations to perform their duties, we are proud and grateful for their service,” said Major Matt Murphy, U.S. Air Force National Guard bureau spokesperson.

These men and women will serve among the 25,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen from across the U.S. helping the District of Columbia National Guard provide a safe and secure presidential event.

Murphy said 8,000 to 10,000 guard members are usually called upon to assist with inauguration security. Members of Congress typically receive 200,000 event tickets to distribute among their constituents. This year, tickets have been issued to the 535 members of Congress and one guest each.  

In the wake of the civil unrest on the Capitol building in Washington D.C., and in preparation for the inauguration, the National Guard Bureau requested the support from National Guardsmen from across the states and territories to provide crowd management, traffic control in and around the Capitol, National Mall and White House; as well as communications, logistical, medical and public affairs support.

“We can’t give you the names of the soldiers and airmen from your area or tell you which parishes they’re from,” said Sgt. 1st Class Denis B. Ricou, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office. “What I can say is some of the same faces you saw helping deliver the COVID vaccine at Burton Coliseum and assisting communities after the hurricanes will be helping with inauguration security.”     

The Louisiana group traveled to Washington, D.C., Friday. No special training was implemented for the assignment.

“We train on an annual basis,” Ricou said. “We’re there to support an array of operations because we’re the National Guard; we do what we’re needed to do.”

Ricou said the group was reminded, “If you see something, say something.”

This year there will be no inaugural parade or balls. Organizers are hosting a virtual “Parade Across America.” This will be followed by a televised “Celebrating America Primetime Special,” hosted by Tom Hanks at 7:30 p.m. central time. The program will be carried live by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and PBS and streamed live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch.Members of the Louisiana National Guard prepare Saturday to leave for Washington, D.C., to help with security for today’s inauguration.

Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh