A National Guard soldier from New York state died Thursday in Washington, D.C., where he had been deployed since January after the Capitol incursion.
Specialist Justin Grennell, 26, of the Syracuse suburb of Marcellus was found unresponsive Thursday morning in his hotel room, according to Syracuse.com. He was pronounced dead by first responders.
“Joint Task Force District of Columbia is sad to confirm the death of a National Guard member serving with the U.S. Capitol security mission due to an apparent medical emergency,” Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said in a statement, according to Military.com. “The individual was not on duty at the time, and the incident is under investigation.”
Grennell’s death was under investigation by the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, Eric Durr, a spokesman for the New York National Guard, told Syracuse.com.
Grennell was a member of Troop A of the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry. He was part of a contingent of 540 New York troops who went to Washington in January.
At the height of the deployment, 26,000 troops were in Washington to protect the inauguration of President Joe Biden, although no threats ever materialized. The size of the Guard force in Washington has since shrunk to about 4,300 troops, CNN reported.
Although the deployment had been scheduled to end this month, the Pentagon has approved a request from the Capitol Police to keep 2,300 Guard troops in Washington for an additional two months.
According to CNN, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rejected a proposal for less than 1,000 Guard troops to remain.
“All of us in the New York National Guard are deeply saddened by the death of this young soldier,” said Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, New York’s adjutant general.
“When our state and nation called, he stepped forward and enlisted. Following the attack on our nation’s Capitol on January 6th, he selflessly deployed to Washington, D.C.,” Shields said. “Our thoughts are with his family in this most trying time.”
Grennell, a native of Port Byron, New York, enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2014.
He had received the Army Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, according to Syracuse.com
Last week, Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma called the request to keep the Guard troops through May “outrageous,” The Washington Post reported.
“That’s not what they’re supposed to be. That’s not their mission,” Inhofe said. “We have the Capitol Police. That is their mission.”
During the deployment, reports emerged that Guard troops were served sub-standard food.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that about 50 Guard troops had been treated for stomach problems, according to WUSA-TV.
Citing an unnamed Guard official, CNN reported that the next two months would cost $111 million.
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