Jason James, a 1993 graduate of Bridge City High School, didn’t have enough seniority in 2005 to be part of security for the second inauguration of George W. Bush. That was not the case in 2009. 

James and Chad Hanks, a 1997 BCHS grad, are both officers of the Bryan Police Department. They recently returned home after a very long, freezing day protecting the President Barack Obama. 

“It was 17 hours in full uniform, 12 hours on the parade route,” said James. Full uniform for him that day meant two pairs of socks, three pairs of long johns, two long john tops, bulletproof vest, uniform shirt and pants and heavy uniform jacket – and a rain coat to block the wind. Additionally, James put hand-warmers in his socks to help keep his feet warm.

Hanks said he was OK after James gave him something to put on his ears. “If my ears are cold, I’m cold,” he said.

James also shared hand-warmers with some of the spectators near his post.

Their job was to watch the crowd on the inaugural parade route, so they didn’t get a good look of the president, but James did manage to get a quick glimpse as the limousine turned a right corner.

Both officers saw Vice President Biden and his wife, who were walking at that point of the parade.

They said most of the crowd dispersed after that, because of the extreme cold, though the parade continued for hours.

Their jobs were to also keep protestors at bay. James said seven to eight protest groups filed for permits, but they personally, never saw any.

The two officers spotted six buildings with snipers poised to take action if needed. But that proved unnecessary as everyone was in a joyful celebratory mood.

“You could hear the crowd behind us cheer when [Obama] was sworn in,” said James.

The two did get to do a little sight seeing when they arrived Sunday. They rode the Metro into Washington, D.C. and visited the National Law Enforcement Memorial. They knew an officer that died in 2000 and went in his honor. Walking around the back of the White House, because the front of the building was obscured by the reviewing stand for Tuesday’s parade. The U.S. Capitol, plus the Korean and Vietnam Memorials were also visited.

It was an hour trip each way to their hotel in Herndon, Va.
Monday, they were sworn in as deputy U.S. marshals and had a briefing with Homeland Security. Special commemorative badges were given to each officer.

Tuesday, their day started at 3 a.m., with temperatures in the teens and wind chill factor in single digits.

Secret Service swept the streets for bombs or any other possible dangers to the president, then positioned the officers. At Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street, they were within two blocks of the White House.

“I’d do it again, to go and be a part of history,” said James. “We did our little part to keep [President Obama] safe.”

Hanks on the other hand, said he would let somebody else go in his place, next time. He is glad he was chosen for the honor. “It’s nice to know your supervisor appreciates the job you do. It was a privilege to go,” he said. “The atmosphere was interesting and meeting the different agencies,” but the cold, “I’ve got my fill of it,” he said. 

Hanks would like to go back sometime, but as a tourist with his family. His wife of eight years, Amy, is also a Bridge City graduate and the daughter of former Orange County Sheriff Huel Fontenot. They have a 2-year-old son, Collier. “We’ll go when he’s old enough to understand,” said Hanks.

“It was a really good experience,” said James. He looks forward to the day he has a family, “… and I can say, ‘I was there.’”

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.