Kentucky National Guard provided support for 2012 Kentucky Derby

Story by Sgt. Bryan Ploughe, 1st Battalion, 623d Field Artillery Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative

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Kentucky Army Guardsmen Pfc. Kara Denise Bucklew and Spc. Eddy D. Mitchell, both MPs with the 223rd Military Police Company stationed in Louisville, Ky., guard the winner’s trophy in front of the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. May 5 2012. This year marks the 138th running of the roses and was Bucklew’s first Derby experience. (Photo by: Spc. David Bolton, Public Affairs Specialist, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky Army National Guard).

Louisville, KY. (May 8, 2012) – The 138th “Run for the Roses” was one that was on track to set new attendance records. The previous attendance record, which was set in 2011 was 164,858 spectators. This year that number was surpassed by nearly 500, with 165,307 in attendance. The record attendance also generated a record number of wagers. A total of $187 million dollars was bet on the full 13-race card.

“With these projected numbers, we knew this event was going to be monumental,” said Lt. Col. Jeffery Hughes, the commander of troops.  “Here in the operations center, we are working in concert with state and local officials and first responders to monitor the crowds and be here to respond to whatever need may arise. We have 282 Soldiers on ground for this event that will be serving in several different support roles, from security and traffic control to escorting VIP’s. Taking into consideration the size of the crowds and other factors, this event is running exceptionally smooth.”

Col. Charles Harris, the state security officer for the Kentucky National Guard, said, “We have a Proper Use Memorandum in place to use assets like the Civil Air Patrol to support local authorities with information in case of a catastrophic event.”

It’s not just man-made disasters the team plans for, said Harris.  “We monitor issues like the weather, so we will be as prepared as possible if the unthinkable occurs, like a tornado or severe thunderstorm.  Additionally, part of our job is to warn our Soldiers and Airmen if there is a threat of severe storms, or heat, or anything else that may hamper their mission.”

The operations center for the Kentucky National Guard works in concert with local law enforcement and emergency personnel to ensure the safety and the smooth operation for the entire Churchill Downs premises.

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