Kentucky Guardsmen key part of Derby festivities

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Spc. Dustin Mattingly with the 223rd Military Police Company places the Kentucky Derby Trophy in the winners' circle at Churchill Downs, May 7, 2016. The six-person detail secured the Derby trophy throughout the Derby weekend, escorting it to its final position just before the running of the Kentucky Derby. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Spc. Dustin Mattingly with the 223rd Military Police Company places the Kentucky Derby Trophy in the winners’ circle at Churchill Downs, May 7, 2016. The six-person detail secured the Derby trophy throughout the Derby weekend, escorting it to its final position to be presented to the winner of the race. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It has been 80 years since the first record of the Kentucky National Guard assisting with the Kentucky Derby. A lot has changed, but the cooperation between multiple agencies to ensure a safe and secure race weekend has not.

Nearly 200 Guardsmen took their usual stance in and around Churchill Downs in Louisville for the festive “Run for the Roses,” May 7. From working shoulder-to-shoulder with Louisville Metro Police Department or serving as valuable security component for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Guard’s presence remained a visible element of the 142nd Derby.

Soldiers from the 198th Military Police Battalion took the brunt of the workload by providing additional security at the track and assisting with traffic flow in the streets surrounding the venue. For the first time in several years, the 223rd Military Police Company served as the primary tasked unit.

“The 223rd is grateful for the opportunity, our Soldiers were excited to take on the responsibility of maintaining security, heavy traffic points, and standing on trophy guard this year,” said 1st Lt. Hallie Freeman, Officer-in-Charge of security for the 223rd. “Everyone agreed that it was an honor and privilege to work the Kentucky Derby and represent the 198th Military Police Battalion and the Kentucky National Guard.”

 

Pfc. Kevin Justice with the 198th Military Police Battalion assists with traffic flow at the main gate of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., May 7, 2016. Nearly two hundred Guardsmen were on duty to assist local authorities with security and traffic during Derby weekend.(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Pfc. Kevin Justice with the 198th Military Police Battalion assists with traffic flow at the main gate of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., May 7, 2016. Nearly two hundred Guardsmen were on duty to assist local authorities with security and traffic during Derby weekend.(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

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A near record crowd of 167,000 spectators jammed the historic track for the race on Saturday, but the Guardsmen were in place, ready to go long before. The 223rd also provided the same support on Friday for the running of the Kentucky Oaks which set its own attendance record of 124,000.

“One of the best parts of this duty is us being out here in front of so many people,” said Spc. Brandon Borneman. “Being here give us a lot of interaction with the civilian population to let them know that we’re here to serve and protect and facilitate their enjoyment at the track.”

Kentucky Guard leadership said it was “business as usual” for the MPs who have the annual tasking down to a science.

“The 223rd accomplished the mission, garnered some more respect from local authorities and received some great on-the-job-training,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Ochs. “We have experienced MPs out here and some Soldiers working their first Derby. And I’m proud of the job they all have done to make this Derby weekend a success.”