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NEWS | April 23, 2022

Kentucky Guard brings “Thunder” back to Louisville

By Staff Report, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Kentucky National Guard helped to bring the “thunder” back to Derby City April 23, as Thunder Over Louisville returned at full force for the first time since the COVID pandemic.

More than 450 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and Airmen supported this year’s event by manning the cannons on the Clark Memorial Bridge, providing security and traffic control, as well as participating in the airshow.

Although this year’s mission for the Kentucky Guard was nothing new, it was perhaps a little more special as the air show celebrated the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force and marked the Derby Festival’s full return since the pandemic.

“It's a beautiful day to come together and celebrate this big event and recognize the 75th Anniversary of the Air Force,” said Maj. Gen. Hal Lamberton, Kentucky’s adjutant general. “Thunder really gives us a chance to showcase the Kentucky Guard's capabilities and equipment for the public’s enjoyment.”

For the first time in nearly two years, spectators lined both sides of the river to experience the sights and sounds of Thunder.

The 138th Field Artillery Brigade transported and fired six howitzer cannons used to initiate the start of the day’s festivities, and again throughout the fireworks display. Also on ground and in the streets, the 198th Military Police Battalion augmented local law enforcement by providing security and assisting with traffic flow.

Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing were also on hand, both on the ground and in the air, as members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron parachuted from a C-130 as part of the air show.

In all, more than 30 military and civilian aircraft took over Louisville’s skies. Everyone from children to adults enjoyed seeing the aircraft that were flown in the air show, and for one air guardsman, he said getting to provide the experience for generations to come meant the world to him.

“I remember as a child, my father bringing me out here to the Air Guard base when it was open to the public and being able to able to look at all of these different aircraft,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Brown, C-130J crew chief with the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 123rd Airlift Wing. “I had never seen anything like that close and it was a big deal for me. Now, being able to provide any kind of support to facilitate that for someone else is a big deal, especially with this being the 75th anniversary of the Air Force. Being a part of something bigger than myself is important.”

The sun-filled day ended with bright colored fireworks that drew “ohhs” and “ahhs” from the crowd of an estimated 850,000 people glad to be back in attendance.

“Being back out in the sunshine after Thunder being canceled last year is like a breath of fresh air for my family,” said Rene Thompson a Louisville resident. "I grew up in Louisville and I’ve been coming to Thunder my whole life. It seems like every time there is a big event you all (National Guard) are always there. It gives me peace of mind knowing you are here to make sure everyone is safe.”

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