Members of the 148th Fighter Wing returned home from their deployment to the capitol for the inauguration of President Joe Biden. A total of 110 members who volunteered make up about 10% of the total force.  Master Sergeant Chris Simonson who is the Food Service Team Lead first found out this past Summer that he was going to be a part of a small team to head down to the inauguration, and he was excited knowing this is once in a lifetime career mission.

But the mission took a serious turn after the storming of the capitol by rioters at the beginning of the month on January 6.  Col. Curt Grayson, Mission Support Director, said:

When it became obvious they were going, the mentality kinda shifted to ‘holy cow, I was kinda thinking that we maybe might go, people asked if I would go.’ and now, ‘we are leaving and we are leaving in two days. Using our own Minnesota National Guard C-130s we were able to pick our members up here at the 148th, pick them right up here at Duluth and transport them right up to Andrews Air Force Base.

The food service team was responsible for feeding 25,000 troop members from across the country. It was the only hot meal that they got all day and their hard work was all behind the scenes away from the national attention on downtown Washington D.C. Although they wanted to be downtown with the other troop members preparing for any kind of threat they knew their job was to serve in whatever capacity they were needed to do .

Colonel Grayson went on to say: " what to expect really was the unknown. It’s that desire to serve no matter what conditions, that made so many of the 148th’s men ready to go. Really excited to have the opportunity to go out there and do what they joined the Guard to do."  Many troop members  including Master Sgt. Simonson will be heading to Hibbing in the next few days t help out with COVID-19 testing and eventually vaccinations.

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Thankfully the inauguration went peacefully thanks to guard members like them who were seen on television news sleeping where ever they could find a place to lay down whether it was in the capitol building itself, or even a parking garage. I also saw citizens dropping off pizzas and even one little boy sliding some chocolate chip cookies to some of the soldiers under one of the fences. No words can express the gratitude we all have for these troop members who packed up and went off to D.C. without hesitation.

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