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Veteran charged in Capitol riot once served in Marine One squadron, officials say

U.S. President Joe Biden boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Feb. 16. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

A Marine Corps veteran charged in the Capitol riot once served as a crew chief for the presidential helicopter squadron, a highly restrictive unit that requires a top-secret security clearance, officials said Wednesday.

John Daniel Andries, 35, of Piney Point, Md., was arrested last month and charged with two felonies, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds. He pleaded not guilty, WUSA9 reported. His attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.

Andries, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004, joined Marine Helicopter Squadron One in 2006, officials said. His duties included aircraft maintenance as a presidential helicopter crew chief.

The squadron, also known as HMX-1, oversees presidential travel aircraft. The helicopter is known as Marine One when the president is aboard. The squadron’s other role is testing and evaluating helicopters.

The squadron’s members must receive a top-secret clearance and receive a special higher-level clearance known as Yankee White, officials said, which is reserved for personnel close to the president.

Prosecutors allege that Andries entered the Capitol building through a broken window during the Jan. 6 riot, in which a mob overcame police officers in an attempt to interrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s election.

Andries, in a tan jacket, was recorded in several parts of the Capitol, according to a criminal complaint. Standing near a group of police at one point, he waved to other members of the crowd, appearing to draw them closer to the confrontation with the officers, according to a video cited by prosecutors.

More than 30 veterans have been charged with crimes in the riot. Most of them had typical duties, such as infantry members, vehicle drivers and mechanics, according to service records obtained by The Washington Post. One of them, Thomas Caldwell, served as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer.

But Andries stands apart for his duties in Marine Helicopter Squadron One, a highly selective post even for enlisted crew members. “An assignment with HMX-1 is one of high visibility and great responsibility,” read one Marine Corps bulletin that sought pilots.

Andries left the Marine Corps as a lance corporal in November 2009 with no combat deployments, according to his service record. His assignment within the squadron covered the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.