Nebraska National Guard troops part of inauguration


More than 240 soldiers with the Nebraska National Guard were among those providing services around the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. before, during and after the presidential inauguration.

Among that group were a total of 36 troops from the 189th Transportation Unit from Wayne, Norfolk and Columbus.

Those from the Wayne Unit who spent time in the nation's capitol were SFC Brian Fernau, SSG Chris Woehler, SSG Josh Pieper, SSG Katie Kramer, SSG Brian Campbell, SGT Scott Chase, SGT Matt Poehlman, SGT Gary Redden, SPC Jacob Zeiss, Spc Jorge Vergara Meza, Spc Blake Reppert,  Spc Tyler Rasmussen, Spc Tyler Poehlman and Spc Colby Keiser.

Because the 189th Unit is a transportation unit, 10 of the members drove vehicles and gear from Nebraska to Washington D.C. The remainder flew in six "chalks" (flights) from Lincoln.

The soldiers volunteered to take part in the event and were given 48 hours to report for duty. They left Nebraska on Jan. 15 and were scheduled to return on the 25th. However, a snow storm in Nebraska on Jan. 25 and 26 delayed their return until Jan. 28.

The Nebraska soldiers slept in motels and were served catered meals from downtown Washington, D.C. restaurants.

"We were part of the Quick Reaction Force Team stationed at the White House," said Woehler. "We also were responsible for patrolling the capitol and Library of Congress before and after the inauguration."

Woehler said the soldiers from the Nebraska units did not sleep in parking garages, but while they were on duty, they did go into the parking garages to relax. He said the USO group also provided snacks to the soldiers. Shifts ranged from 12 to 36 hours.

After the group's official duties were completed, they had a day to tour sites in the nation's capitol, including Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Wall and the Korean Monument.

Woehler said he was most impressed with Arlington National Cemetery and the precision of those on duty there.

Following a return to Lincoln, the soldiers got off active duty and returned to their civilian duties.