Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday morning ordered the immediate return of all New Hampshire National Guard members from Washington, D.C., citing an "alarming" report that Guardsmen from across the country were forced to sleep in unheated parking garages.
"I’ve ordered the immediate return of all New Hampshire National Guardsmen and women from Washington DC," Sununu said in a statement. "They did an outstanding job serving our nation’s capital in a time of strife and should be graciously praised, not subject to substandard conditions."
The New York Times reported Thursday that National Guard troops brought in for President Joe Biden's inauguration were forced to sleep in an unheated parking garage after being jettisoned from the Capitol. They were reportedly moved from the Capitol at the request of Capitol Police due to "increased foot traffic" as Congress returned to session.
The story didn't specify what state the Guard troops were from, so it wasn't immediately clear if any New Hampshire soldiers were among those who spent the night in the garage.
Two anonymous Guard members told the Times that they had no power, heat or adequate restroom facilities. One soldier said 1,000 troops were forced to share one portable restroom.
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By Friday morning, the National Guard said the soldiers had been moved back to the Capitol from the parking garage.
The acting chief of Capitol Police claimed her agency did not tell troops to leave.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, told NBC10 Boston and NEN that there have been some developments Friday.
“The understanding is that it may have been an individual within the Capitol Police force or some other administrative group in the Capitol who may have asked certain individuals to leave,” she explained.
In a statement, the New Hampshire National Guard didn’t directly address the controversy, but wrote, “Spirts have remained high despite 36-hour shifts, sleeping in parking garages, and changing missions.”
Hassan is now calling for a full investigation into exactly what happened and why.
“More than anything else, I want the National Guard in New Hampshire and across the country to know that we are forever grateful, and that we owe them something we can’t ever fully repay,” she said.
Approximately 50 National Guard soldiers and airmen from New Hampshire have been in Washington, D.C. since Saturday after Sununu approved a request for support last week.
In all, nearly 1,000 Guard members from across New England were sent to D.C. to help protect the Capitol during inauguration week, including 500 from Massachusetts, 200 from Maine, 100 from Connecticut and 100 from Vermont.
A spokesperson for Massachusetts Rep. Lori Trahan said they reached out to Massachusetts National Guard leadership and were told that no Massachusetts soldiers were among those ordered to relocate to the parking garage.
There is no word on exactly how many New England soldiers remain in Washington.