ROGERSVILLE — Members of the Tennessee National Guard’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment based in Mount Carmel and Rogersville were notified early Wednesday morning they will not only be witnessing history, but they will be protecting history.

The Tennessee National Guard is sending a significant number of soldiers to the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.

The total number being deployed from across the state was increasing throughout the day on Wednesday, but at last report it was several hundred, including approximately 27 members from the Rogersville armory and 40 from the Mount Carmel armory.

They are expected to be flown to the nation’s capital within the next few days. They will be working with fellow citizen soldiers from across the nation to prepare for Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration and then to help preserve order and a peaceful transition of power during and after the event.

“Troopers understand our political climate”

Local Guard members don’t know how long they’ll be gone, but Sgt. Arturo Guzman of Knoxville, who is based at the Mount Carmel armory, told the Times News Wednesday they are well-trained and prepared for their historic mission.

“Officially we’re just there to support our federal government and to preserve life and property,” Guzman said. “It’s not uncommon for the National Guard to be deployed to Washington, D.C., during inauguration. This is actually something that is very procedural.”

In light of the civil unrest and rioting at the Capitol last week, however, Guzman said he and his fellow soldiers realize this might not be an ordinary inauguration.

“I think we understand what our mission is,” Guzman said. “We can’t ignore what happened over the last couple of weeks, but we’re prepared. Most of our troopers understand our political climate and the unrest that is happening this year. But this is what we train for as citizen soldiers. Everyone has their own opinion and their own bias, but we understand our mission, and we’re fully capable of completing our objective.”

Guzman added, “It’s a privilege just to be able to go to D.C. during the inauguration. It’s a historical time, and we are well-equipped to fulfill that mission that has been handed down to us.”

“We’re prepared and I’m confident in my unit”

Soldiers from the Rogersville armory were deployed to Washington, D.C., last June to protect the capital during Black Lives Matter protests. Fortunately, those protests were peaceful.

Sgt. Alex Mowry of Elizabethton, who participated in that deployment, echoed Guzman’s confidence that they are prepared for whatever they might face.

“We will be trying to create safety for citizens if any civil unrest occurs in D.C. and providing a safe transition for the inauguration,” Mowry told the Times News on Wednesday. “I don’t know the exact location, but I know we will be in Washington, D.C.

“We’re prepared and I’m confident in my unit. I know we’re confident in each other. From the training and the preparation that we have, any situation that would arise, we have the ability to de-escalate it safely.”