MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - An hour ahead of schedule, hundreds of South Carolina National Guard troops arrived back in the Palmetto State around 7:30 a.m. Monday following deployment to Washington D.C. for the inauguration.
“We are very proud of our service,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeff Jones said. “Very proud to be there during an important event in our country’s history and very thankful for the families and employers who saw us off and supported us.”
John Shytle is one of around 650 National Guardsmen and women from the state called up before the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
“It was interesting, it was a closed inauguration,” Shytle said. “I had been to one other inauguration when I was active duty and I was on a different side of the game.”
Before the inauguration he got the call to leave his wife Megan, nine kids including newborn son, Jethro, just hours after his birth.
“We literally gave birth to him in about an hour later he was telling me she would be leaving in a couple days,” Megan Shytle said. “He’s been gone before, missed one in a deployment to Iraq and our last baby he was at the police Academy so it’s normal.”
While Shytle had been deployed before overseas, his wife says the most recent missions during the summer’s riots and during the inauguration created a different type of anxiety for family back at home.
“When he’s deployed oversees, nothing’s happening here. The threat is somewhere else,” Megan Shytle said. “These past few times, the threat’s been here you don’t know what’s going to come and he’s going to happen in on something could happen in our own town and he’s gone.”
The main role the task force was helping local law enforcement with any infrastructure needed for the inauguration and security checkpoints.
“It’s still the American process and the American process was still carried out,” Shytle said.
Following reports that some National Guard soldiers had to camp in a parking garage, Jones says his troops were not treated that way but did have to sleep outside a hotel for a night.
“We did not experience that, and I can speak for our chain of command there that they were treated very well,” Jones said. “They were assigned hotels. There was a time, due to the inauguration where they needed to sleep in the immediate area because the bridges were closed and we wanted to ensure that the soldiers did not miss their assignments.”
Jones also wants to thank national leaders from South Carolina who stopped by to thank the troops during their deployment.
“In one way or the other whether they brought food, whether they stop to speak to them, whether they visited our operation center, our congressional delegation of South Carolina was there with us,” Jones said.