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NEWS | May 8, 2023

Kentucky Guard serves at Derby

By Pfc. Georgia Napier, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers and Airmen from the Kentucky National Guard helped provide safety for Derby patrons and security for the trophy at Churchill Downs for this year’s 149th running of the Kentucky Derby, May 6.

Soldiers from the 617th Military Police Company provided security for the Derby from outside the track, conducted traffic control and augmented the Louisville Metro Police Department. Inside the Downs, the Soldiers of the 617th kept a close eye on the Kentucky Derby trophy as it was transported throughout the building and eventually to the winner’s circle prior to the race.

Working hand in hand with the local authorities takes a lot of planning leading up to race day. But it is something the Soldiers who spent their drill weekend here really enjoy.

“I think it’s great being around the community and speaking to the people,” said Spc. Tyler Wilson, a military police officer from the 617th. “We want them to know that we are here if they need us.”

According to Sgt. Kevin Underwood, a military police officer from the 617th and a Louisville resident, a team of six Soldiers from his company were assigned to trophy detail. Their role was to stand guard and safely transport the trophies during the Kentucky Derby.

“The best part about being a part of this detail is definitely the honor of representing the Kentucky National Guard to my home city. Being cheered on by hundreds of thousands of people wearing this uniform as they broadcasted us on the big screen is a feeling that can’t be explained,” said Underwood

Along with the trophy detail, there were a contingent of Air Guardsmen with the 123rd Airlift Wing and Army Soldiers representing numerous different units around the Commonwealth lined the track during the race.

Also working behind the scenes making sure the grounds were safe before and during the event was the 41st Civil Support Team (CST) with about 20 Soldiers from Kentucky, as well as other Soldiers from CSTs from around the country.

The Kentucky National Guard has assisted in the Derby since 1936, making this the 117th year of support. The participation of the Guard helps strengthen the bonds with LMPD and the Louisville community, as well as offering a unique experience for Soldiers.

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