Confusion for Boston Marathon reponsders

Some WMD Civil Support Team troops were forced to momentarily stand down moments after the Boston bombing, according to their commander. Photo: Anonymous

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2013 — The commander of the Rhode Island Army National Guard 13th Civil Support Team (CST) initially noted that her two WMD detection experts assigned duty at the Boston Marathon were unable to access the blast sites. 

Massachusetts National Guard 1st CST were at the finish line and able to quickly respond, however the 13th CST was “several blocks” from the finish line at the time of the twin terror bombings. When that unit tried to move into position to respond, the 13th was held  back after law enforcement denied them access to the scene at the finish line.

SEE RELATED: Men with backpacks at Boston Marathon private contractors?

In an exclusive interview on Saturday with Washington Times Communities, Lieutenant Colonel Lisa Meriwether, commander of the 22 member Rhode Island National Guard 13th CST stated that the CST did a sweep earlier in the day.

“We did have members up there. Two members at first, and two additional members after the fact to provide communications … The 1st CST did a sweep earlier. My two personnel plus members of the 13th CST (typographical error corrected to reflect 13th CST) tried to move toward the scene but were turned away by law enforcement.”

SEE RELATED: Seven unanswered questions about the Boston bombers

(Note: It is entirely possible that in the initial confusion, the CST personnel were not immediately recognized as they were not in a traditional uniform, however, they were quickly recognized and part of the first responders to the blast site providing essential aid and assistance.)

Meriwether’s unit, which she says wears a uniform consisting of navy blue shirts, black vests and khaki pants, were not at the crowded finish line throughout the race.

But moments after two explosions rocked Boylston Street, her unit tried to move in to detect any possible chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incident by identifying CBRNE agents/substances like those used in dirty bombs.

Those two personnel, along with similarly trained experts from the Massachusetts Army National Guard CST, were denied access to the scene by “law enforcement,” according to Meriwether.

New York’s Army National Guard had five CST personnel working at the Boston Marathon. “They were very, very near the blast site; they were in harm’s way. They were able to respond quickly” Representative Michael Grimm said Friday while visiting the unit at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, reports the Staten Island Advance.

Insignia of the 13th CST, Rhode Island Army National Guard

Insignia of the 13th CST, Rhode Island Army National Guard

On Tuesday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed the New York CST unit as well as one in Florida will receive Defense Department funding to continue operations, also reported by the Staten Island Advance.

A public relations official at Fort Hamilton arranged an interview for the Communities with the Commander of New York’s CST unit, but later redirected questions to a public relations official for the NY Army National Guard, who did not immediately respond.

CST WMD troops on duty at Boston Marathon at the time of the explosion:

Massachusetts Army NG: Unknown

Rhode Island Army NG: 2 (source: Commander Meriwether)

New York Army NG: 5 (source: Staten Island Advance)

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