Obama's big day to be soldier's, too

Washington-raised woman is helping to coordinate salute

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EVERETT -- When more than 1,500 service members salute President Barack Obama on Jan. 21 along the parade route for his second inauguration, Army Sgt. 1st Class Meghan Malloy will have had a hand in making sure all the other white-gloved hands snap at the right time.

Malloy, who grew up on Camano Island, is a member of an elite team from the Department of Defense preparing for the inauguration.

She belongs to a 176-member joint task force charged with coordinating ceremonial military support for the 57th U.S. Presidential Inauguration. The task force includes members from all branches of the armed forces, including reserves and National Guard. The total number of military personnel participating in the inauguration is about 5,000.

Malloy, 32, is active on a subcommittee of 11 people in charge of the 1,541 service members who will line the inaugural parade route.

"Malloy is an asset to the cordon team. She is an outstanding performer, consistently executing tasks well above her pay grade," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Watson, deputy commander for the military street cordon line for the parade. "Her hard work, dedication and leadership is vital to the ceremonial support that we provide to the commander-in-chief."

"I'm excited to be here supporting the inauguration," Malloy said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an amazing honor. It is something that very few people have a chance to participate in."

Malloy said her family back home is cheering her on and teasing her, begging for tickets to some of the inaugural balls.

Malloy was 20 when she joined the Army Reserve in Olympia. After Sept. 11, 2001, she switched to active duty and served three deployments as a medic in Iraq. Since then she has served with the Army in Germany, Texas, Washington state, Colorado and Missouri. About a year ago, she was transferred to an Army research facility in Silver Spring, Md.

"I miss Washington state, and it's been a few years since I've been home. I miss skiing at Mount Baker and so much more," Malloy said. "The restaurants in D.C. are phenomenal, but no one does salmon like the people back home."

Watched Seahawks win

Malloy, a big Seahawks fan, had tickets to the NFC playoff game Sunday between Seattle and the Washington Redskins.

"A friend from Mount Vernon and I have pretty good seats. My family told me to yell really loud," she said.

Malloy was asked to join the inauguration team in September and has been working full time on the project since.

"It's been interesting to work with the Secret Service, the capital police, the park service and the metro police as well as all the property owners we have to contact to get the parade set up," she said. "It's all about making sure it runs smoothly."

A rehearsal is planned next Sunday morning, Jan. 13.

"We'll start at about 3 a.m. and shut down the streets of the capital until about noon," Malloy said. "There is a lot to rehearse. For one thing, getting 1,500 people to salute at once takes some practice."

After Inauguration Day, the committee will take another month to archive their work for the military crew who gets the same job in four years.

"I've watched the inauguration on TV since I was little and I am absolutely looking forward to it," said Malloy, who will be on the parade route. "I've had a lot of fun explaining the process, because most people really don't understand how much work goes into the inauguration. It's a wonderful celebration of the nation's democratic process and a chance to show our commander-in-chief our appreciation and support."