Some of our nation’s finest answered the call of duty here in our nation’s Capitol over the past weeks to assist with a peaceful transition of power.
These dedicated men and women in the National Guard have taken an oath to protect that bedrock document of our Founding, the Constitution – and indeed they have.
Some of our very finest in the Guard came to serve from my home state of Utah; 321 troops that have discharged their duties with distinction and honor.
The majority of Task Force Utah was comprised of soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery, 65th Fires Brigade, also known as the Triple Deuce.
Additional soldiers came from the 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
I rise today to honor and thank these selfless men and women.
These past weeks, the Utah guardsmen were stationed at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress.
For many of these soldiers, it was their first time visiting Washington.
Major Brent Mangum of the Utah National Guard remarked that as the soldiers were stationed at buildings with quotes on the walls from the Founding Fathers, you could see them pausing during the day to read and reflect on them.
I myself had the privilege to give some of these men and women a tour of the Capitol building before they left for home.
It was an honor to meet and host these dedicated guardsmen, to learn some of their stories, and to see firsthand their caliber as people.
One of the most remarkable things about these citizen soldiers is the way they tirelessly serve their communities – inside the Guard and out.
My Salt Lake City office was lucky enough to have one such of these men, Alfredo Lopez, as an intern a few years ago.
Alfredo immigrated with his family from Peru at the age of 10, and began to build a life in the United States. In addition to serving the people of Utah in my state office, he also was on active duty in the Marine Corps before joining the National Guard.
Alfredo, in all of his endeavors in our country, has sought only to give back.
Another, Jay Bartholomew, is a prison guard at the Gunnison Prison in Sanpete County. The son of Scott Bartholomew, a County Commissioner in Sanpete County, Jay has followed in his family’s footsteps of serving the local community.
Other guardsmen in Utah are engaged in their communities in all sorts of ways. Some are teachers; some are firefighters; some are medical professionals; you name it.
And many have now answered the call of duty on the front lines of another crisis, as our nation faces the current pandemic.
These guardsmen have played a significant role in providing testing, moving and storing personal protective equipment, and other support missions to assist the Utah Department of Health’s COVID-19 response.
Now, Utah Governor Spencer Cox has entrusted them with another critical mission: the Guard will be on the front lines to help ramp up the delivery of vaccines.
The Guard has put together teams that can mobilize throughout the state to deliver vaccinations and antibody infusions within a matter of hours, and save many lives in the process.
I have no doubt that they will continue to administer this duty with dedication and excellence, just as they do with every other assignment with which they are tasked.
In everything they do, the Utah National Guard seeks to serve and strengthen our communities, our country, and our state; and we are all better off for it.
It has been an honor to have these selfless men and women in our nation’s Capitol; and I thank them for their service.
I yield the floor.