SALT LAKE CITY – Approximately 350 soldiers with the Utah National Guard stood guard at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday for the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
They were called up last week to strengthen security for this week's events.
According to one of their leaders, it's been a peaceful and positive mission so far.
"It's definitely a big effort," said Maj. Mangum, who has been a member of the guard for 18 years. "Standing guard. There's not a lot of activity, thankfully."
He asked that his and others' first names be withheld for security reasons.
The Utah officer said it was an uneventful inauguration, in terms of security, which is good news.
Mangum said they felt honored to be there and felt the support of the local community.
"We're happy to be here. Proud to be a part of the National Guard. Proud to serve in America. And thankful again to the citizens and everybody in the local area that this has been a peaceful event so far," he said. "We're hoping and praying it remains that way."
Members of the Utah National Guard are among 25,000 troops from across the nation watching over the Capitol this week.
They were standing shoulder to shoulder Wednesday at the Capitol perimeter with members of the New York National Guard, the Maine National Guard and local police.
"It certainly gives a feeling of security that nothing is going to go wrong," the major said. "Nothing has gone wrong, and we hope to keep it that way."
Mangum said many of the Utah troops have been battle-tested with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. A good number had never been to Washington before, so it was a big deal to be surrounded by the grandeur of American Democracy.
"Everything that reminds you of the founding of this nation," he said. "I think for most soldiers it reinforces the oath that they took to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic."
He added they are reminded of what they represent as American soldiers.
"No hostile interactions," Mangum said. "It's been very calm from what I've seen."
He said they have spoken with a lot of people who live in the area and feel supported by those who live and work there.
"There's been an incredible outpouring of support from the local restaurants here. They've been very gracious providing food to the soldiers," he said.
If peace prevails, the troops hope to return to their families soon.
"We're here until we're not needed," the major said.
Mangum said they are thankful to everyone who helped make it a peaceful event.