Mass. National Guard Not Among Those Pulled Off Capitol Duties

BOSTON (State House News Service) — A federal review of National Guard personnel assigned to support the Inauguration in Washington has resulted in 12 Guardsmen being pulled off their duties at the Capitol, but all 500 of the service members dispatched from Massachusetts by Gov. Charlie Baker got the green light from defense officials.

"All of our personnel were cleared," Mass. National Guard spokeswoman Col. Lisa Ahaesy told the News Service. "They were all vetted and cleared and no one was returned. So everyone is ready to serve."

Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced the vetting of Guard personnel, assisted by the FBI, on Monday, noting that similar screening processes are routine but "in this case the scope of military participation is unique."

The 25,000 Guard members in Washington — 500 of them from the Bay State — are supporting security, communications, logistics, and coordination at the Capitol for President-elect Joseph Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

"We work very closely with law enforcement and if there's any identification or anything whatsoever that needs to be looked into, out of an abundance of caution we automatically pull those personnel off the line and make sure they're not part of the mission set, and in certain cases we make sure that we get them sent home," Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the U.S. National Guard Bureau, said Tuesday at a Defense Department press briefing after a dozen Guardsmen were pulled from Inauguration duties.

Capt. Aaron Smith, another Mass. National Guard spokesman, told the News Service by phone from Washington that "morale's pretty high."

"We're really proud to be here. It's definitely an honor, the historic significance of being part of the Inauguration," Smith said. " ... It's great to see this many Guardsmen come together on one mission and be able to chip in and support that peaceful transfer of power."

Many of the personnel from Massachusetts are providing security support to the Capitol Police, Smith said, and "kind of realize their role in history."

By Sam Doran, State House News Service

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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