With the eyes of the world watching the events of the Inauguration of the Nation’s 45th President, Donald J. Trump, U.S. Customs and Border Protection served both highly visible and some less-visible functions throughout the historic day.
CBP supported security efforts with nearly 200 officers and agents on land, on the Potomac River, and in the air. Another 75 personnel from U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations and the Office of Field Operations participated in Friday’s inaugural parade.
“We are honored to have participated once again in the President’s Inaugural Parade,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “I also want to recognize the commitment of our law enforcement personnel who are supporting security efforts to ensure a safe environment for everyone.”
More than 140 CBP officers and Border Patrol agents supported the U.S. Capitol Police to provide a safe inauguration. “We had a uniformed presence on the Capitol grounds with about 70 [Border Patrol] agents,” said James Damato, an assistant chief with the Border Patrol. In addition, OFO contributed about the same number of officers who screened objects and vehicles entering restricted areas.
AMO contributed 56 agents to the security effort. Agents conducted maritime security operations on the Potomac River with two 38-foot patrol boats. AMO also deployed eight helicopters to monitor the area and provide a live video feed to operations centers across the region and to law enforcement personnel on the ground.
Brian Hastings, CBP’s Lead Field Coordinator, coordinated CBP’s inauguration activities from the National Targeting Center in northern Virginia. Nicholas Hanke, acting director for OFO’s incident management division, served as CBP’s incident commander at a central facility near the Capitol.
Two marshals displaying the Border Patrol banner led USBP in the parade, followed by a command platoon, a rifle platoon and the award-winning Border Patrol Pipes and Drums, giving viewers a spirited view of the men and women of CBP.
CBP’s Joint Color Guard, flanked by two riflemen, carried Old Glory, the flag of the Department of Homeland Security, the CBP Ensign and the OFO and AMO flags.
For several members in the color guard, it was their first time marching in an inaugural parade. “It was a privilege to represent our agency,” noted April Peterson, AMO’s national honor guard commander.
Marine Interdiction Agent Roberto Ponce, one of three AMO members of the joint color guard, viewed the parade as a “once in a lifetime opportunity. I jumped right at it. I didn’t hesitate,” he said.
Thousands applied to enter the parade; CBP was among the 41 participants chosen. Once the selection was made, volunteers quickly stepped forward, said Richard Fortunato, a Border Patrol assistant chief and commander of U.S. Border Patrol’s Pipes and Drums. “People were excited and enthusiastic about participating, and ready and willing to go,” he said. “Internationally, we were looked at by other pipes and drum units.”
Standing out from CBP’s formations were four OFO vehicles and an eight-horse Border Patrol horse-patrol unit striding in two columns, led by Rio Grande Sector Chief Patrol Agent Manny Padilla. Once wild Mustangs, the horses were rescued from the Midwest and domesticated. They were transported to the Washington, D.C., area during a three-day trip from the Rio Grande Sector, said Christopher Levy, Border Patrol assistant chief and national horse patrol coordinator.
During their stay, the Mustangs were safeguarded by the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and corralled at a farm in Warrenton, Virginia. “They were very gracious to us,” said Levy. A press reception for the horse patrol took place Wednesday at the Great Meadows Foundation in The Plains, Virginia.
Ensuring their best parade performance, CBP’s units rehearsed at locations in Virginia then mustered Friday near the Capital where the parade commenced, said Jonathan McElhaney, OFO program manager and the national honor guard commander.