WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Appalachian State senior was part of an Army National Guard unit from North Carolina that was sent to Washington, D.C. for potential armed protests leading up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Lauren Spangler, a senior psychology major, was sent to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 17 and stayed through the inauguration with her unit. At first Spangler, a combat medic, was asked if she wanted to go on a volunteer basis attached to another unit as she is attached to the 883rd Combat Engineering Company.
“I got a call that day a few hours later and they were like, “Well, good thing you volunteered because now you’re definitely going. Be at the armory tomorrow morning,’” Spangler said.
After lots of paperwork and medical screenings, Spangler and her unit left for Washington, D.C Jan. 17. Spangler was on standby with her medical gear the majority of her time in the city, but on inauguration day she was out in the city patrolling.
“My job — which luckily I never even had to open my medical pack — is if something happened to another soldier I was with, it is my responsibility to aid them until they can be taken to a hospital for further care,” Spangler said. “Basically, don’t let them die, don’t let them bleed out, don’t let their airway close.”
The National Guard was utilized in Washington, D.C. in preparation for what FBI Director Christopher Wray called “potential armed protests and activity leading up to the inauguration.”
In preparation, Gov. Roy Cooper had authorized 350 North Carolina National Guard members to assist at the state and another 200 National Guard members to aid in Washington, D.C.
Spangler could see the Capitol building where she was stationed on Inauguration Day, but she said it would have been a drive to get to the building.
Spangler enlisted in the National Guard as a combat medic in October 2019, and completed her boot camp between February and August 2020. Her mission to Washington, D.C. was her first as a member of the National Guard.
“I think that getting the call, especially when I stepped out there not in a training environment, it felt a little different,” Spangler said. “I didn’t hear about or see any threats. D.C. was on lockdown on the Inauguration Day and a few days before, so there weren’t really people around anywhere in town.”
While she was in the city, Spangler said she stayed in a hotel room every night.
“I think that we were very blessed that, you know, nothing happened and everything turned out all peaceful,” Spangler said.
Spangler said she joined the military to “protect and serve” and wanted to join as a medic.
“No matter what, at the end of the day, I’m saving someone’s life,” Spangler said. “Whether they’re a soldier or a civilian, or someone from a foreign country, I’m keeping them alive. I think that at the end of the day, you can always say that that’s a good thing. So it makes me feel really good about what I do.”
Spangler said she knows she’s in a male dominated field, but that doesn’t stop her.
“I don’t want to be treated differently. I don’t want favors,” Spangler said. “I don’t want to feel like I’m not being held as high of a standard to a male because it’s a boys club.”
Spangler, who’s from Charlotte, has six years left on her contract as a combat medic.
A request for more information from the Army National Guard on how many Boone soldiers were sent to Washington, D.C. was not returned as of publication.