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Boonsboro High graduate on patrol as McCain accepts nomination

September 28, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn. - As John McCain stood center stage to accept his party's nomination, the Marine nephew of a Sharpsburg couple stood quietly in the shadows, far away from the spotlights and cameras that focused on the candidate and his supporters.

Marine Corps Sgt. Travis A. Itnyre, nephew of James and Merlene Mills of Sharpsburg, and more than 1,000 service members were gathered, not as political revelers, but as experts with special capabilities to support the Secret Service, FBI and law-enforcement officials in providing a safe and secure environment for the Republican National Convention.

Itnyre specializes as a radio operator with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Indian Head, Md. His efforts helped this event take place without interruption.

"I'm working with the decontamination platoon that is in place in case of an attack on the Republican National Convention. I also provide communications support to my unit," said Itnyre, a 2003 Boonsboro High School graduate.

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American military service members, such as Itnyre, are sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and take their orders from the president or their governor, and senior-ranking officers. Professionally they are apolitical, but Itnyre realized why his military contribution to this political convention was important.

"We add a sense of security to the course of events taking place here. People attending can feel safe knowing that if an attack were to take place here, we would be able to rescue and provide decontamination if necessary," Itnyre said.

A special military organization was formed here with personnel from the active-duty ranks, reservists and National Guardsmen. Named the Joint Task Force - Republican National Convention, this military organization was not in charge of security operations, but aided federal and local agencies.

Some military members brought special capabilities the civil authorities either didn't have or didn't have enough of for the event. Military specialties such as search "bomb dogs," chemical, biological or radiological specialists, firemen, military policemen, and soldiers trained in riot control all helped the other federal agencies in accomplishing the security needs for this large-scale political convention.

Working as a military member on the streets of a major American city in support of other federal agencies, Itnyre believes this experience will leave a lasting impression.

"It's like being a part of history, knowing we may be witnessing the nomination of the next president," Itnyre said.

Although Itnyre was well suited for this special assignment, he has a traditional military background.

"I have more than five years of military service. I've been stationed a Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Okinawa, Japan," Itnyre said.

Although the cameras and spotlights have moved on with the candidate, Itnyre will continue with his traditional military duties and responsibilities, while remembering the moment he helped a man who could be president.

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