PEORIA (WEEK) — Around 100 members of the Illinois National Guard landed on the tarmac in Peoria Tuesday afternoon.
They are the last of around 500 summoned to protect the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
One member Kristina Johnson is from Peoria and is currently based in the twin cities.
She says some of the best moments of her mission were interacting with Capitol Police Officers who protected the Capitol on January 6.
“Sometimes I was scared due to it being a different environment,” Johnson said. “I never really thought ever I would be going to the Capitol to help the police officers there, with the Capitol and everything going down.”
All of the troops that came home Tuesday volunteered in March to stay an extra few months at the request of the Department of Defense.
Sergeant First Class Alex Olson says the mission was, in a word, unique.
“I’ve done several domestic operations,” Olson said. “This was definitely unlike any of them. Just the depth and the duration made it very unique.”
Olson is a 19-year veteran of the National Guard from Peoria. He says morale was high, and his troops were ready for the challenge.
“They did feel that sense of accomplishment,” Olson said. “They were able to get out there and do something even if it’s not their standard military job. They got to do something real. Something with substance.”
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