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104th Responds to Boston Marathon Attack

Members of the 104th Fighter Wing, Mass. Air National Guard Security Forces, assist the Boston Transit Police directly after the Boston Marathon Bombing April 15, 2013.

Members of the 104th Fighter Wing, Mass. Air National Guard Security Forces, assist the Boston Transit Police directly after the Boston Marathon Bombing April 15, 2013.

104th Fighter Wing, Westfield, Mass. -- "Something is wrong. This happens over there, this doesn't happen here."

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Fulton nodded as she heard this familiar observation from another soldier attempting to process the tragic events of Monday, April 15, 2013. She sat in a quiet room in a Massachusetts armory and listened to the accounts of the steady stream of soldiers and airmen who witnessed and responded to the terrorist attacks. Though a few days had passed, to the Guardsmen on scene, the graphic images of detached limbs and blood soaked sidewalks were still painfully vivid.

Fulton is a chaplain's assistant with the 104th Fighter Wing, an Iraq War veteran, and a firefighter in her hometown of Sharon, Mass. She is accustomed to counseling service members dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event. However, discussing horrific injuries sustained as a result of detonated dual pressure cooker nail bombs in an American city on a Spring afternoon was a new and heart wrenching experience.

Not long after the explosions occurred at the Boston Marathon, it became apparent that a terrorist event was underway. Guardsmen from the 104th Fighter Wing were contacting their respective units to volunteer to assist, and Fulton was no exception.

A few days later, she and her boss, Lt. Col. Steven Misarski, were deployed as part of a Religious Support Team (RSP) to meet with Guardsman assigned to support the Boston Marathon who might be interested in discussing their experiences.

"These men and women are highly trained and the best of the best. The accounts we heard were terrible and reminded many of their prior deployments. One guy told me that all he wanted was a pair of medical gloves and one hundred tourniquets," she recalled.

"I believe that after serving in Kirkuk, Iraq, I was in a position to relate to these first responders. I wanted them to know that I understood their backgrounds and respect what they do," said Fulton.

Fulton was proud to offer whatever support she could provide.

"We appreciate the opportunity to help those impacted by this event. I will never be the same after hearing these firsthand accounts. Knowing my role and enjoying my job. Being humbled and grateful to be there so I can offer support is an honor. They trusted us and that was gratifying on a personal level," she said. "Many witnessed scenes that are almost too awful to imagine, and although we are all highly trained, we are human. I am hoping that we gave them hope."