Capitol Police Officer Who Steered Mob Away from Senators Credits Army Training

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 U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman attends a dress rehearsal for the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Washington. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)

Eugene Goodman's platoon sergeant in the Army used to tell him, "Figure it out or die."

That mantra was in Goodman's subconscious on Jan. 6, 2021, as the Capitol Police officer faced down rioters who had breached the seat of American democracy.

In his first interview since the attack on the Capitol, Goodman credited his Army training with helping him lead the mob away from the Senate chamber, where lawmakers were still sheltering.

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While Goodman told the "3 Brothers No Sense" podcast that he wasn't actively thinking about the military during the encounter, he said his Army experience "absolutely" helped him that day.

"All the countless raids and all that stuff I've been on, nothing ever went to plan," Goodman said about his time in the Army. "Like at all. Ever. We'd end up having to sort of just wing it, you know what I mean, on the spot. ... What that taught me to do, more so than anything, especially being in the Army, was think on the fly."

Goodman has been hailed a hero since a Huffington Post reporter posted video of him on social media facing down, on his own, rioters who had stormed the Capitol. In the video, Goodman is seen luring the mob away from the Senate chamber, which senators had not yet left after pausing their certification of President Joe Biden's electoral victory when the Capitol was breached.

Separate video released during the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump showed Goodman directing Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to safety away from the rioters.

After the attack, Goodman was promoted to acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms and escorted Vice President Kamala Harris at the inauguration. The Senate also unanimously voted to award him the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the country's highest civilian honors, though the bill that was ultimately signed into law last year awards the medal to all officers who responded on Jan. 6.

Goodman was an infantryman for four years and left the Army in 2006, the service previously told Military.com.

His time in the Army included a deployment to Iraq with 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), from 2005 to 2006.

His awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and Army Good Conduct Medal.

In the podcast interview released Monday, Goodman said he made team leader two years into his Army service.

"They just kind of threw me in it, you know what I mean, and said, 'Figure it out,'" Goodman recalled, adding his military experience "definitely came together for me in that moment" on Jan. 6.

He also credited restraint shown by his fellow officers in preventing Jan. 6 from becoming a "bloodbath."

"In any situation like that, you want to de-escalate, but at the same time, you want to survive first," Goodman said. "It could have easily been a bloodbath, so kudos to everybody there that showed a measure of restraint with regards to deadly force, because it could have been baaaaad. Really, really bad."

-- Rebecca Kheel can be reached at rebecca.kheel@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @reporterkheel.

Related: Capitol Police Officer Who Led Mob Away from Senate Chambers Is an Army Iraq War Vet

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