LOUISVILLE, Ky. –
For the 34th year in a row, Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were called on to help ensure the success of the Bluegrass's largest one-day festival known as Thunder Over Louisville, April 22, 2023.
The mission of the Kentucky National Guard was very clear: supplement Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) to provide additional security and traffic control and man the cannons on the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge.
"This is my fourteenth year working Thunder with the Kentucky National Guard," said Lt. Col. Curtis Persinger, commander of the 198th Military Police Battalion. "My favorite part of working this event is coming home with everyone safe and accounted for. It’s also great to be able to serve our community in such a public way.”
Many who attended the event thanked Soldiers and police up and down the busy river walk. One Soldier recounted his experiences while working Thunder.
“I have worked at Derby and River Fest, but this is my first time working at Thunder as a military police officer,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Collin of the 617th Military Police Company. “We just want to make sure people feel safe and comfortable so that they can enjoy the show.”
Thunder over Louisville is a historical event that brings people together from all walks of life. The military provides an air show and the city of Louisville provides one of the largest fireworks shows in North America. The weather was not perfect this year but that did not stop thousands of spectators who came to celebrate.
Capt. James Swanson, liaison officer in command of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade, said, “The show that we put on represents the strength that the armed forces have and seeing the kids’ faces light up with excitement when they hear the loud booms make it all worth it.”
All in all, this event had 183 Soldiers and Airmen. Military police from the 617th sent 59 Soldiers who supported the LMPD with both security patrols and traffic control points. The 138th Field Artillery Brigade also sent 20 Soldiers to bring the "thunder" from the bridge with transporting and firing four 105mm howitzer cannons used to initiate the start of Thunder and again throughout the fireworks display.
“Louisville has been going through a lot lately and this event can lift people’s spirits,” said 2nd Lt. Sasha Soto of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade. “Thunder shows that we are an important part of the community and it’s been a great way to spend a drill weekend.”