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Opportunities await those who participate, volunteer

President Barrack Obama walks beside the first lady, Michelle Obama, during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. More than 6,000 National Guard members joined local and federal law enforcement to ensure the President was kept safe during Inauguration activities. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

President Barrack Obama walks beside the first lady, Michelle Obama, during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. More than 6,000 National Guard members joined local and federal law enforcement to ensure the President was kept safe during Inauguration activities. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden interact with the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade attendees in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. National Guardsmen came from more than 30 states to help local and federal law enforcement keep the parade route clear and safe for the participants. (Air National Guard photo by Andrea F. Liechti)

Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden interact with the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade attendees in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. National Guardsmen came from more than 30 states to help local and federal law enforcement keep the parade route clear and safe for the participants. (Air National Guard photo by Andrea F. Liechti)

An American flag flies above the President's reviewing stand during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. National Guardsmen joined forces with local and federal law enforcement to ensure the parade route was kept clear for the President. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

An American flag flies above the President's reviewing stand during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. National Guardsmen joined forces with local and federal law enforcement to ensure the parade route was kept clear for the President. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

The Obama family cheers on a marching band from behind the reviewing stand glass during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. As they enjoyed the entertainment of groups from all over the United States, National Guard members helped local and federal law enforcement keep people off of the parade route. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

The Obama family cheers on a marching band from behind the reviewing stand glass during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. As they enjoyed the entertainment of groups from all over the United States, National Guard members helped local and federal law enforcement keep people off of the parade route. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

The crosswalk hits 13 seconds in front of the nation's capitol following the 2013 Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. National Guardsmen came from more than 30 different states to help local and federal law enforcement keep citizens safe throughout the inauguration activities. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

The crosswalk hits 13 seconds in front of the nation's capitol following the 2013 Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. National Guardsmen came from more than 30 different states to help local and federal law enforcement keep citizens safe throughout the inauguration activities. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Senior Master Sgt. Daryl Ferricks, 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, provides directions to a 57th Presidential Inauguration attendee in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. More than 6,000 Soldiers and Airmen were sworn in as special police to help local and federal law enforcement with traffic and crowd control throughout the 2013 Presidential Inauguration. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Senior Master Sgt. Daryl Ferricks, 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, provides directions to a 57th Presidential Inauguration attendee in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. More than 6,000 Soldiers and Airmen were sworn in as special police to help local and federal law enforcement with traffic and crowd control throughout the 2013 Presidential Inauguration. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

MADISON, Wis. -- More than a week has passed. I can still feel the pounding of my heartbeat against my chest. I can feel my hands trembling, shaking the camera slightly as I tried to capture the president and first lady in a single frame. I remember thinking to myself, "This is your chance. This is an opportunity of a lifetime."

Did I take the perfect photograph? No. There were too many secret service members, other photographers and vehicles in the way. Excuses, I know. Any experienced photographer would have broken through the fence to ensure he or she got the angle needed.

Regardless, I did take a photo of the President of the United States. Actually, I took 126 of them. A little obnoxious but I was excited and didn't want to miss a single second of the action. As a senior Airman at the 115th Fighter Wing, I had the opportunity to support the District of Columbia National Guard in a Joint Task Force mission at the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.

I have no clue how I got selected. I have a feeling it has to do with the fact we have an amazing non-commissioned officer on the 115 FW Public Affairs team. Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue, 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs broadcaster, is great at keeping the team informed. He emailed and even called some of us ensuring everyone in our shop knew about this volunteer opportunity. Eight of us were on that list. I was the lucky one to go.

The entire trip was filled with excitement. I slept on Red Cross cots in the D.C. Armory, embarrassed myself as I walked across the drill floor in pajamas to the showers, occasionally running into uniformed officers, and most importantly, had the time of my life learning what it takes to accomplish a JTF mission.

In less than a week's time with National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from various units, I photographed and wrote about the bed-down facilities that housed the Soldiers and Airmen, the mission National Guardsmen had to support local and federal law enforcement in D.C., and was positioned in front of the President's reviewing stand which allowed me to capture photographs of our nation's leaders.

It's not every day a girl gets to say she photographed the President of the United States. Thanks to the 115 FW NCOs who care enough to share opportunities with their Airmen, I had the chance to volunteer for this mission. I encourage my fellow Airmen to take advantage of volunteer opportunities they are given. The Wisconsin Air National Guard has a lot to offer. Don't let the experience of a lifetime pass you by.
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