HOPKINTON, Mass. -
Four hundred Massachusetts National Guardsmen were called up to support the 113th running of the Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day, April 20, 2009.
Guardsmen from the 126th Combat Support Battalion were positioned at the starting line in Hopkinton, Mass., to assist the Hopkinton Police in keeping the route clear for more than 26,000 runners.
The Boston Marathon is a public event supported by multiple agencies in the commonwealth. Every year spectators line the 26-mile route from Hopkinton to Boston. The National Guard is utilized to help police departments along the marathon route to safeguard spectators and maintain public order.
When the race began, the street was packed tight with runners, who touched the out-stretched hands of screaming spectators as they ran by. Sgt. 1st Class Leonard A. Hester, Company A, 126th Combat Support Battalion, said “I have done this many times before with the military police and I hope that I will be able to do it again, it’s nice to get out here and see the crowd having fun.”
Guardsmen don’t often experience interacting with the public while in uniform and see events like the marathon as a good opportunity to interact. Sgt. Stephen R. Mastronardi, an intelligence analyst with the Headquarters Company, 126th Combat Support Battalion said, “It’s a good opportunity to see the Boston Marathon up close and to meet the public as Guardsmen. The spectators were cheering for us as we marched down the route to get into position before the race started,” said Mastronardi.
1st Lt. Justin P. Culverwell, commander of Company B, 126th Combat Support Battalion said, “I think it went well, the Soldiers here definitely made a positive impact on the start of the race and had a good time talking with spectators.”
The runners got off to a good start in Hopkinton, but as quickly as the last group of racers could run by, the spectacle of the race ended. The Guardsmen marched back to their busses and returned to their armories for lunch and to discuss their plans for next year.