Kentucky Guardsmen help secure Valhalla for 96th PGA

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

140807-Z-GN092-125

Spc. Anthony Bucaro with the 2138th Forward Support Company mans his security checkpoint along the fairway of the 2nd hole at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 7, 2014. More than 40 Guardsmen assisted Louisville Metro Police Department with security details at the club for the PGA Championship. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

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.

140807-Z-GN092-151

Spc. Harley Lyons with the 203rd Forward Support Company works alongside Officer Cameron Leek with Louisville Metro Police Department in directing traffic outside Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 7, 2014. Kentucky Guardsmen augmented local law enforcement in and out of the club to ensure player and spectator safety during the PGA Championship. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

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.

140807-Z-GN092-114

Spc. Hunter Hood with the 203rd Forward Support Company secures the tee box of the 9th hole at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 7, 2014. More than 55,000 spectators were expected to crowd the course each day during the PGA Championship. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“Being part of a support unit, this is a bit different from what we normally do, but we are all Soldiers first,” said Hopson. “And its 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.”

About kentuckyguard