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Friday, December 8, 2023

Ep. 240 - Staff Sergeant Aquilino Gonell


Hello and welcome to The Rob Burgess Show. I am, of course, your host, Rob Burgess.

On this our 240th episode our guest is Staff Sergeant Aquilino Gonell.

Staff Sergeant Aquilino Gonell is a Dominican immigrant, former U.S. Army soldier and Iraq War veteran. For 17 years, he was a United States Capitol Police officer and was one of four police officers who testified before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. He’s been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, Telemundo, Univision and NPR, and in The New York Times, The Washington Post and El Diario. He is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Citizens Medal.

The book he co-wrote with Susan Shapiro, “American Shield: The Immigrant Sergeant Who Defended Democracy,” was published Nov. 7 by Counterpoint Press.

A quick programming note: The interview section of this episode is about 40 minutes long, after which I'll come back to read a quick additional statement from Staff Sergeant Gonell. Then, for the last part of the episode, I'll be including Staff Sergeant Gonell's complete testimony before the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which he delivered July 27, 2021.

After our conversation, I asked Staff Sergeant Gonell if he had any additional statements he wanted me to include in the episode. This is what he sent me:

“The book is not just about January 6. It’s about sacrifices and dedication to duty. I spent 23 years of my life as a public servant in the military and as a police officer, where I protected the country, at home and abroad, faithfully and honorably. I have overcome many obstacles, challenges and adversities. I thought I had it all figured out. Then January 6 happened. I lost my career, my health and my beliefs in American principles and values, creating a moral injury as well. I did what I signed up for and kept my oath. Yet, those same people I protected, the Republicans, tell me that what I lived through was not real or that it wasn't that bad.”

I want to quickly thank Staff Sergeant Gonell once more, along with the other United States Capitol Police officers who testified and continue to speak out.

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