WASHINGTON – Soldiers with the 1433rd Engineer Company, Michigan National Guard, based in Fort Custer, Michigan, served in the nation’s capital to support the 59th Presidential Inauguration. The unit went home afterward but returned to Washington last week as part of a follow-on mission supporting the U.S. Capitol Police.
“Our mission is to support the Capitol police and other law enforcement,” said Capt. Nicholas Roman, commander of the 1433rd Eng. Co. “We do this to save lives and protect critical government property, such as the Capitol building.”
For this mission, the unit works under the Michigan Army National Guard’s 177th Military Police Brigade leadership. While many mission tasks are closely related to a military police skill set, the engineers received training in security operations and related mission-required items.
“This is not an engineering mission,” said 1st Lt. Darren Tanis, executive officer, or XO, of the 1433rd Eng. Co., adding unit members were quick to adapt to the mission.
“We raised our right hands to protect the U.S. from all threats, both foreign and domestic,” he said. “Helping provide a peaceful transition of power [during the inauguration] made me feel proud to be an American and a member of the armed forces.”
When not on duty, Tanis teaches high school math in Ada, Michigan, where he lives with his wife and four children. Aside from his busy family life, he also instructs two sophomore geometry classes, an algebra/geometry class for freshmen and a college algebra class for seniors. He has been a teacher for 16 years.
Despite being on duty in Washington, Tanis still maintains contact with both his family and his students.
“While on leave back in Michigan for a few days, I maximized my time and created several screen-cast videos for my high school students,” he said, adding that COVID-19 restrictions have forced him to get creative when conducting lessons online instead of in person.
“Then I received the call, we were headed back to D.C.,” said Tanis. “Unit leadership also said, ‘Congratulations, you’re our new XO.’”
Still adapting to his new role, unit leadership is confident in his abilities.
“He did such a great job during the inauguration,” said Roman. “I just couldn’t come back to Washington without him. He is such a valuable team member.”
In his XO role, Tanis assists the company commander with anything necessary to accomplish the mission. He participates in planning, logistics support and oversees training completion to ensure everyone is mission-ready.
For Tanis, his journey to XO began with his brother, who convinced him to enlist.
“While I wanted to serve and be part of a team, I did not want to neglect those important people in my life,” said Tanis. “But, over time, my brother showed me that I could make it work.”
Tanis’s brother currently serves in the Michigan Army Guard, joining immediately after college. In his 15 years of service, he has been a recruiter and supply sergeant and recently became a warrant officer, serving as a pilot.
In Washington, Tanis said the District people had reacted positively to the National Guard presence.
“We have been treated well. The people of D.C. seem to be grateful for the National Guard,” he said, adding that when people see the National Guard, they know Soldiers are here to help.
For Tanis and many others in the task force, his unit is assigned to, it’s all part of the job.
“Our Michigan military forces stepped up when needed,” said Col. Chris McKinney, commander of the 177th MP Bde. and Joint Task Force Independence. “We do not ask for recognition, nor do we seek congratulations. We do our job.”
And, McKinney said, that’s something they’ll do as long as needed in the area.
“We will continue to save lives and protect critical infrastructure here in Washington,” he said.
The National Guard has been requested to continue supporting federal law enforcement agencies with security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support to state, district and federal agencies through mid-March.