Kentucky National Guard UPAHRs enjoy Derby thrills

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Story and Photos by Sgt. Scott Raper, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Kentucky National Guard UPAHR’s Enjoy Derby Thrills

Kentucky Guard Unit Public Affairs Historian Representatives Pfc. Ivanna Duran, Pfc. Tabitha Murray and Spc. Lauren Womack speak with Kentucky's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini following the opening ceremony of the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky., May 7. (Photo by Sgt. Scott Raper, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 7, 2011) – The Kentucky Derby is known as ‘the greatest two minutes in sports.’  This past Saturday, it became a whole lot more for several Kentucky Army National Guard unit public affairs and historian representatives.  The award winners from this year’s UPAHR conference took full advantage of their all access pass as they had the unique chance to witness the sights and sounds of Churchill Downs and to be a part of Derby 137.

“Uncle Sam loves me today,” said Louisville native Pfc. Ivanna Duran of the Guard’s 1163rd Medical Co.

“I have a wonderful opportunity to do something so exciting,” she said.

Kentucky National Guard UPAHRs Enjoy Derby Thrills

Pfc. Ivanna Duran, 1163rd Medical Company unit public affairs historian representative, interviews a Guardsman providing security at 137th Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., May 7. Duran attended the Derby as an award for her work at the 2011 UPAHR Conference and as an opportunity to sharpen her journalist skills. (Photo by Sgt. Scott Raper, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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Joining Duran at Churchill Downs were Pfc. Tabitha Murray of the 299th Chemical Co. and Spc. Lauren Womack of the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion.  Their full day began early, a necessity to beat the crowds to the track. They were then recognized by Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini during a morning ceremony at the Derby Museum.  It was then off into the grandstands, the infield and everything in between that is the Kentucky Derby.

“We’re doing something few people get to do,” said Murray, a native of Dry Ridge.

“It’s one of the reasons I love the Guard, all the experiences we get to witness and go through,” she said.

From Millionaires Row to the streets surrounding Churchill Downs, the UPAHRs soaked in the exciting and sometimes crazy atmosphere of the Derby.  They rubbed shoulders with celebrities, met three Medal of Honor recipients who were in attendance, and took plenty of pictures, including some from the winner’s circle.  They had their own opportunity to interview fellow Guardsmen providing security and traffic control, to get an idea how to do their job better as a UPAHR.

“It’s very beneficial for me as a UPAHR,” said Duran.  “I know the importance of our job to let others know what’s going on, to make them aware and UPAHRs can be that voice of those behind the scenes.”

Kentucky National Guard UPAHR’s Enjoy Derby Thrills

Pfc. Tabitha Murray , 299th Chemical Company, Spc. Lauren Womack, 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, and Pvt. 1st Class Ivanna Duran, 1163rd Medical Company, take photos of the 137th Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., May 7. (Photo by Sgt. Scott Raper, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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