LOUISVILLE, Ky. –
Kentucky hasn't seen a golf outing this big since the Ryder Cup back in 2008. In a return to the prestigious Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, the Pro Golf Association brought it's 96th Championship event to the commonwealth, Aug 4-10.
An estimated 55,000 spectators per day lined the course and filled makeshift parking lots with their vehicles for the week-long event. In order to secure the club property and the surrounding streets, Louisville Metro Police Department requested the assistance of the Kentucky National Guard.
Approximately 45 Soldiers augmented police officers and Valhalla's security to ensure the safety of the players, employees and fans. The majority of the Soldiers were from the 2138th Forward Support Company (FSC), with a few from the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery and the 203rd FSC.
The officer-in-charge of security, 1st Lt. Michael Hallas said the Guard needed local units for the mission and the Louisville-based 2138th fit the bill.
"This is a great mission to be on," said Hallas. "There's thousands of people here and the 2138th becomes the face of the Kentucky National Guard."
According to Hallas, the Guardsmen were organized into two groups, one for perimeter security for the course and one for traffic control outside the club grounds. As the mission required around-the-clock operations, two shifts were also set up to comply with the needs of Valhalla.
The task was one the 2138th would not normally be assigned to, but several of the Soldiers deployed to the Horn of Africa in 2012 where they performed similar security missions at Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti. Spc. DeMarcus Hopson was one of them and said that experience set them up for success in any assignment at home.
"Being part of a support unit, this is a bit different from what we normally do, but we are all Soldiers first," said Hopson. "It’s a great opportunity to mingle with thousands of people and let them know the Kentucky National Guard is out here doing things to support the communities in different ways."
In addition to the security and traffic, Guardsmen with the Kentucky Guard's communications section were on hand to set up radio communications with all Soldiers on the ground.
As the large crowds that followed Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy converged on the 18th hole on Sunday, Soldiers of the Kentucky Guard were given another thumbs-up for a successful mission completed.
Maj. Kelly Jones, Special Operations Commander for LMPD said the size of the event demanded a lot from the city and surrounding communities and that the assistance was needed and appreciated.
"We are truly blessed to have members of the Kentucky National Guard helping us out with this event," he said. "Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard should be thanked day in and day for all they do, not just this weekend, but we simply could not have pulled this off without them."