Winona’s Cade and Colby Marlow recently completed their first deployment as members of the Mississippi Army National Guard. The brothers, part of the Charlie Battery 2nd 114th Field Artillery Battalion 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team out of Canton, spent five days in Washington, D.C. with the mission of protecting peaceful protestors as riots raged in our nation’s capital.
Mississippi’s Army National Guard was called up the evening of May 30 for a volunteer deployment with the purpose of keeping the peace as protests against police brutality and systemic racism in Washington, D.C. escalated to violence, riots, and vandalism.
“Our main mission was to protect the monuments and to make sure people were allowed the opportunity to use their Constitutional right to protest,” Cade said.
Colby added, “The mindset was not an offensive mission. Peace was the main objective of the mission.”
When they were alerted to the voluntary deployment, the Marlows immediately volunteered. Early morning on Tuesday, June 1, they reported to the armory and were transported to Thompson Air Field in Jackson.
“We were in the air [a few hours later],” Cade said. “We landed in Maryland at Andrews Air Force Base and were bused into Washington.”
Eleven states sent guardsmen, for a total of 5,000 troops on the ground. Mississippi sent approximately 400 guardsmen.
While on the bus, Mississippi’s guardsmen were surrounded by protestors at an intersection in the heart of Washington, D.C. Many were hostile, screaming vulgarities and making violent or vulgar hand gestures to the troops. However, the bus was soon allowed to continue on to its destination to the Washington, D.C. Armory, where they were outfitted with riot gear. Troops were assigned as special police for the District of Columbia Metro Police Department and were given the oath of duty.
Protests occur on a regular basis in Washington, D.C., and the Marlows said several different protests were underway during their five days there.
“Some were protesting for Black Lives Matter,” Colby said. “Some were protesting police brutality, and some were protesting President Trump.”
Upon arrival in Washington, Cade said an enormous amount of damage was done in the city, with spray paint on nearly every structure. Mayor Muriel Bowser had set a curfew in the city, as most of the damage was done after dark. However, it did not take much time for the presence of the troops to damper rioting and violence.
“All of the violence and [rioting] – all that was real at one time,” Cade said. “The military active was used as a show of force. We were the right hand of the police.”
Colby added, “I think the show of force in general did what it needed to do.”
Cade continued, “It was the right call [to bring in troops]. As military, we are versatile. We are citizen soldiers. Our mission was to go down there and make sure the people there who wanted to protest, and wanted to do it peacefully, could. And we protected the monuments.”
The Marlows said as the days passed, the violence and rioting decreased tremendously.
“The last two days there, it was very peaceful,” Colby said. “Music was playing, people were huddled together. Everything was peaceful.”
In basic training, the Marlows said they were trained to handle difficult situations in the field.
“We were taught the basic soldier skills, which provide us with the skills necessary to handle situations like this,” Colby said.
The Marlows signed up for the Mississippi Army National Guard at the age of 17, and they completed basic training the summer before their senior year at Winona Christian School. They graduated in May 2019.
The Marlows said they are following in the footsteps of their late grandfather, Johnny Marlow, who served 43 years in the military.
“I feel it’s a calling,” Colby said of military service. “I didn’t want to do anything else. I want to serve people.”
Cade added, “That’s Johnny Marlow coming through us. Our grandfather did 43 years in the military. He said they would have to take his uniform from him.”
Currently, the Marlows are pursuing their Associates Degree from Holmes Community College. In fact, they took their computers with them to Washington, D.C., to work on school work during down time. According to the Marlows, summer courses were not going to stop them from volunteering for the deployment.
“I like to take advantage of every opportunity,” Cade said. “There is nothing else I’d rather do. I’m always sitting on G and waiting on O.”
The Marlows said they welcome future deployments because they are trained to serve, however, as civilians their goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Mississippi State University, with the aspiration of becoming members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, another path taken by their grandfather who was a Trooper for decades.
“Our grandfather influenced us the same,” Cade said. “We experienced the brotherhood of the Highway Patrol and the National Guard. I love to help someone. I love seeing someone smile. I feel the National Guard and the Highway Patrol do just that. You get to interact with the citizens.
Colby added, “The difference we make, we get to see. I like to be held to a higher standard.”
Cade continued, “Making a positive difference is my overall goal – whether it is through the highway patrol or the military. To live a life of integrity. Our grandfather always said integrity is what you do when no one is looking.”