128th Air Refueling Wing Members Support Presidential Inauguration
By Master Sgt. Kellen Kroening, 128th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published February 03, 2021
MILWAUKEE -- In the days leading up to the 59th presidential inauguration more than 125 Wisconsin Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing, 115th Fighter Wing and Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center led by Col. Timothy Guy, 128th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, mobilized to Washington D.C. to assist with security efforts for the event.
The Wisconsin Airmen, along with over 325 Wisconsin Army Guardsmen, joined more than 25,000 Guardsmen from every state and territory to support the inauguration.
During this operation, Guy acted as the company commander for the Wisconsin Airmen while executing their site security mission at the U.S. Capitol. Additionally, as the LRS commander, Guy was responsible for issuing out equipment to include flack vests and plates, MRE’s, sleeping bags, eye protection, gloves, and weapons to the 128th Air Refueling Wing Airmen supporting the security mission.
“Having the privilege to command the Airmen from the three units as we executed this mission was a great honor," said Guy. "We had a wonderful command team and we were able to be on the line with the Airmen as we defended our democratic process.”
The Airmen from the three Air Guard units made up Sijan Company of Task Force Wisconsin, which fell under Team Capitol in the larger task force responsible for the overall security of the event. Sijan Company performed site security and roaming patrols on the U.S. Capitol grounds.
Over the last year, Wisconsin National Guard units have been called on to support several domestic operation missions, so for most of these Airmen it wasn’t their first time operating in this type of environment.
“Many of the Airmen that made up the team were trained over the summer to support civil disturbance missions in Madison, Milwaukee, Kenosha and Wauwatosa,” said Guy. “We also benefited from many of the Airmen working in law enforcement in their civilian careers or full time as security forces defenders.”
As would be expected for an around-the-clock security mission, the days were long - the longest being Inauguration Day, which saw many of the Sijan Company Airmen on duty for 22 hours.
The Airmen were given the opportunity to rest when not physically on the security line and slept wherever they could find space including places like the Library of Congress. The troops returned to their hotels when off duty.
“This mission was like no other that I’ve supported,” said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Parco, Sijan Company, 1st platoon leader. “To say it was ‘unique’ is an understatement. The days were long and tiresome, but rewarding in their own right. Furthermore, this mission afforded many of our younger Airmen the opportunity to stand side-by-side with our sister services.”
What was a successful mission was not without some small setbacks including a 45 minute commute to their hotel out of the city via a contracted bus service.
Though this added hours to an already long day, the sense of accomplishment seemed to outweigh any inconveniences associated with the mission.
At the end of the operation several outstanding performers were identified by their platoon leaders. They were presented coins on the steps of the capitol building. One of those Airmen was Airman 1st Class Andrea Mlachnik.
“It was an amazing and rare opportunity to be a part of history," said Mlachnik. "I have a real sense of accomplishment seeing the people of Washington D.C. pulling together, feeding us, and helping out, as we make sure a safe and smooth transition happened.”