Guard spokesman, Colonel Greg Hapgood, says the soldiers from Sioux City and Des Moines were chosen for their particular skills.
“Things like logistical background and then also we have members of what’s called the 71st Civil Support team which provides support to law enforcement and other agencies for detecting things like nuclear, biological, radiological types of things as well. So…they have some specialized disciplines that they were looking for,” Hapgood explains.
The logistical experts come from the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City the 132nd Wing in Des Moines. “When you talk about thousands and thousands of people, it takes a lot of logistics,” Hapgood says, “and these airmen from the 132nd wing in Des Moines and the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City have a great degree of logistical background and expertise. And they will help for whatever it is that’s needed on the ground for other military forces.”
The National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. chooses the soldiers and Hapgood says Iowa has gotten the call many times. “This year is actually the third consecutive presidential inauguration that the Iowa National Guard has supported. We did one in 2009, in 2013 and now 2017. So, we’ve really gotten kind of an opportunity to have a ring-side seat for history. It’s been a great experience,” Hapgood says.
Hapgood says the soldiers have a lot to do. “From the moment the soldiers and airmen left Iowa to the moment they get home — really you are talking about a schedule that would take a lot people’s breath away,” Hapgood says. “Whether it’s helping to process thousands of military members or provide logistics for them or law enforcement, every day 12 hour shifts, start early, get back late.” He says though, it’s incredibly rewarding for the soldiers to participate in the transfer of power.
“It makes you incredibly proud as a service member to be a part of the transition and to be able to have the democracy that we do,” according to Hapgood. Some 7,500 soldiers and airmen from 44 states are helping with the event.