ROANOKE, Va. – After Inauguration Day celebration, cleanup is underway. This includes taking down fences and barriers that once were protected by more than 25,000 National Guard troops.
Two troops from Roanoke left their families at a moment’s notice to serve the nation.
Twelve-hour shifts and at times the weather was a bit chilly, troops found ways to stay warm.
“A lot of us share the wealth mentality as far as getting hand warmers, coffee, gloves, stuff like that,” Sergeant Thomas Johnson said.
After the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, First Lieutenant Jonathan Shelton found himself leaving a message for his wife at work saying he needs to go.
Twelve hours later, and he was in D.C.
“It’s hectic. It’s dramatic,” the platoon leader said. “But it’s one of those unique experiences that you can only get through the National Guard that I take a lot of pride in.”
Sergeant Thomas Johnson did not expect his fly fishing trip to be cut short with a call to aide the nation.
“I got a text message saying ‘Hey, I know we haven’t met yet, but show up to the armory tomorrow morning. Welcome to the National Guard.’”
Johnson served active duty in the Marine Corps and joined the Virginia National Guard when he returned home.
He expected to start his first day at the armory on January 8 but ended up diving into his first assignment by guarding the nation’s government seat.
Bouncing back and forth between reinforcing areas and being on standby, the troops said this is a once in a lifetime experience they will never forget.
“It’s something only a handful of people in our generation could say we’re apart of,” Shelton said. “I believe this is going to be in the history books. This is going to be something that we speak about in grade school one day. And I will be able to say ‘Hey, I was there.’”
With no idea of when they will be able to return home, both said they can’t wait to hug their wives a little tighter once again.