Military Police Safeguard the Pentagon
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2002 -- The mission began with fire
and smoke, chaos and confusion. For the first time in
history, terrorists had attacked the Pentagon. In the
immediate aftermath, defense officials called on the Army's
military police to help restore security and safeguard the
Since Sept. 11, Army National Guard and active duty
military police have been standing watch, manning Humvees
and guard posts, helping to protect the Pentagon. While
some units are now standing down, others are taking over
this vital national security mission. Such rotations are a
routine part of military service around the world.
"It was an amazing thing to be part of," Army Sgt. Robert
Glasgow Riley IV said today after a redeployment ceremony
at the Pentagon. "(The attack) was one of the biggest
things to happen in American history in a long time. It's
awful that it happened, but it's a big honor to be a part
of it and knowing that we helped out as much as we could."
Prior to the attack, Defense Protective Service guards
manned the Pentagon's entry points. By the morning of Sept.
12, military police had deployed to augment the protective
service. Riley's unit, the 200th MP Company, and Maryland's
290th MP Co., were the first military police on the scene.
They secured the crime scene and provided security for the
Pentagon for the next 20 days.
In mid-October, both Maryland National Guard companies
traveled to Fort Stewart, Ga., to mobilize for the force
protection mission. They returned to the Military District
of Washington on Dec. 15 and have been performing their
duties here ever since.
Today, military police from Headquarters and Headquarters
Detachment, 759th MP Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo.; 300th
MP Co., Fort Riley, Kan.; and 144th MP Co., Michigan Army
National Guard, are also taking part in the force
Capt. Eric Ogborn, adjutant of the 759th, praised the
National Guard members. "They're absolutely the finest
soldiers," he said. "We don't see any difference between
the National Guard and active duty. There's no rivalry as
some units may think. These people are true professionals.
Capt. Jon David Black, 200th MP Co. commander, said the
mission has been stressful for the National Guardsmen.
"It was a very critical mission," Black said. "I felt that
this area here, in perspective, is just as dangerous, if
not more dangerous, than the missions in Afghanistan right
now." Historically, he noted, terrorists tend to return if
they don't succeed, "so we had to be on our toes the whole
time. It wasn't an easy mission."
One of the commander's greatest challenges, he added, was
keeping the troops focused. "We're so close to home, the
soldiers tended to try to take care of their home
business," he said. "I had to keep them focused on the
mission here." Eventually, he added, schedules were worked
out that allowed people to go home when they were off-duty.
After nearly a year at the Pentagon, the 200th and the
290th are now being replaced by the 258th MP Co. of the
519th MP Battalion from Fort Polk, La. Defense officials
and Maryland's adjutant general addressed the military
police at a redeployment ceremony at the Pentagon's River
Marshall McCants, special assistant to the director of the
Pentagon Force Protection Agency, Defense Protective
Service, thanked the outgoing units for their "courageous,
professional and timely support in response to the Defense
Protective Agency's urgent call for law enforcement
assistance in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack."
McCants said the men and women of 200th and 290th "truly fall
into the category of first responder, for they rallied and
deployed from their families, homes, jobs and arrived at
the Pentagon in less than 24 hours. ... Our request for
assistance was answered without hesitation and by an
immediate and professional deployment."
Throughout the deployment, he said, "professionalism,
constancy, devotion to duty and devotion to country" marked
the Maryland guardsmen's performance.
"We know that we disrupted your families' lives," he added,
"and I would be remiss if I didn't thank your family
members, neighbors and friends who courageously maintained
your households and neighborhoods while you came here
diligently to defend ours."
McCants also paid homage to Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cropper, 49,
a well driller, who died March 20 while doing physical
training at Fort Myer, Va. McCant told Cropper's wife,
Laverne: "We have not forgotten your husband's selflessness
and valiant contributions to our effort." Like the other
military police, McCants said, Cropper was determined that
nothing would happen to the men and women of the Pentagon
on his watch.
Army Maj. Gen. Gerald Rudisill, assistant to the chairman,
Joint Chiefs of Staff, for National Guard matters, noted
that the military police had contributed "a tremendous
dimension of security, confidence and stability."
"That's something the National Guard has been doing for
hundreds of years, and you have done it well," Rudisill
said. "As we look across at the serenity surrounding the
Pentagon today, you had a lot to do with that. You ought to
be awful proud. Thank you for your service to our nation.
You're a tremendous asset and I applaud your effort."
Army Major Gen. James Fretterd, Maryland's adjutant
general, thanked the group for putting their lives on hold
for almost a year. "This is total force at its finest," he
said. The general noted that many of the guardsmen "were
pulled out of colleges and universities, pulled off your
jobs, away from your families" yet they did their jobs as
"I want to thank you all on behalf of the governor, the
lieutenant governor and all the people of Maryland for what
you have done for your country," Fretterd told the MPs. "We
can't be any more proud than I am today. I hope on the
15th, when you have your homecoming, when all your families
can join us and, hopefully, your employers, that we can pay
proper tribute to you and all that you have done."
Fretterd also offered to help anyone who encounters
problems with their employers. "When you get back, if you
have any problems with employer conflicts," he said,
"please give me a call through the chain of command so that
we can help you. We're there to do that."
The general asked those who served in such previous
operations as Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Vietnam to
raise their hands. Seeing several dozen hands raised, he
concluded. "You've held up your hand when your country
needed you and that's so important. We call you Maryland's
finest and there's a reason for that. Because you're the
| Army Maj. Gen. James Fretterd, Maryland
National Guard's adjutant general, thanks members of the
Guard's 200th and 290th Military Police companies Aug. 22,
2002, for putting their lives on hold for nearly a year to
provide security at the Pentagon in the wake of the Sept.
11 terrorist attack. Fretterd took part in a redeployment
ceremony for the MPS at the Pentagon's River Parade Field.
Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.
| High-resolution image available.
| Active duty and National Guard military
police stand at attention during a redeployment ceremony
Aug. 22, 2002, at the Pentagon River Parade Field. The
military police have provided additional security at the
military headquarters since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.
| High-resolution image available.