DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — After more than three weeks in Washington, D.C., members of the Maryland National Guard returned home Saturday.

The January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building caught many people off guard.

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“No one expected it, I didn’t expect it,” Maryland National Guard Lt. Michael Khamis said.

When the angry mob gained access to the U.S. Capitol building, and the call for help went out, the Maryland National Guard answered.

“Right when it started happening we started packing our bags, we were ready to go,” Lt. Khamis said.

Once in Washington, D.C., they worked around the clock in 12-hour shifts to make sure the Capitol building was secure.

“If there were a threat, we would’ve been there to take action,” Lt. Khamis said.

After more than three weeks, which included providing security for the Presidential Inauguration, the more than 800 soldiers returned home to Maryland.

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“They are a part of history, and they know that,” Maryland National Guard Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead said.

Brigadier General Birckhead said she’s proud of the work they did while in Washington, D.C.

This was a no-notice mission, and very sensitive, while also being very complex,” Brigadier General Birckhead said.

It was a complex mission that was much appreciated by the lawmakers being protected.

“It was nothing but positive from the lawmakers. From bringing us donuts and coffee to pizza, or just coming by to say, ‘Hello, thank you for your service.’ That meant so much,” Brigadier General Birckhead said.

It was a small token of gratitude for the men and women who answered the call and gave their state something to be proud of.

“Twenty-eight-degree weather and we were standing the line. 24 hours a day, a soldier from Maryland was guarding our nation’s capital,” Brigadier General Birckhead said.

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While some troops were active in the capital, others are active in assisting the state with the vaccine rollout.

Sean Streicher