Guardsmen integral part of Thunder Over Louisville

By Pfc. Nazir Stoner, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Staff Sgt. Jarred Turner (left), a squad leader with the 2123rd Transportation Company ensures that cannons were in sync while other Guardsmen assigned to the 138th Field Artillery Brigade closed out Thunder over Louisville with a barrage of cannon fire from the Second Street Bridge in Louisville, Ky., April 22, 2017. In addition to the cannon volleys, Kentucky Guardsmen assisted Louisville Metro Police Department in the streets and participated in the Air Show above the river. (U.S. Army National Guard photo Lerone Simmons)

Staff Sgt. Jarred Turner (left), a squad leader with the 2123rd Transportation Company ensures that cannons were in sync while other Guardsmen assigned to the 138th Field Artillery Brigade closed out Thunder over Louisville with a barrage of cannon fire from the Second Street Bridge in Louisville, Ky., April 22, 2017. In addition to the cannon volleys, Kentucky Guardsmen assisted Louisville Metro Police Department in the streets and participated in the Air Show above the river. (U.S. Army National Guard photo Lerone Simmons)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —  Thousands of spectators gathered on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville to witness the annual “Thunder Over Louisville”, April 22, 2017.An event the Kentucky National Guard has been a part of since the event’s inception in 1991.

Thunder over Louisville is an all day event including an airshow that starts in the morning and ends with a fireworks/cannon finale at night.

This year the 223rd and 438th Military Police units augmented the Louisville Metro Police Department to provide mission command support, security, and traffic control to help ensure a safe environment. The 138th Field Artillery Brigade transported, staged and fired cannons from Second Street bridge throughout the day, leading up to the grand fireworks finale, and Air Guardsmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing carried out flight operations during the Air Show and throughout the day.

“Today, we’re assisting the LMPD to make sure there is enough security and nothing goes wrong,” said Spc. Jared Trent, a military policeman assigned to the 223rd MP Co.

Trent explained this was his third year participating in Thunder over Louisville, but this one was unique, as the cold rainy weather kept the usual crowd indoors early in the day.

“This year due to inclement weather the event didn’t see a large crowd during the day, so patrolling has been relatively laid back.”

The Kentucky Guard and LMPD work together every year for Thunder and Kentucky Derby Festival events including the Pegasus Parade and the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Sergeant Bryan Luckett of the LMPD has been on the police force for 17 years and works Thunder over Louisville every year.

“Working with the Guard is great,” Luckett said. ”It’s great to have that extra manpower, and whenever people see the soldiers they have respect for the military.”

He was a member of the National Guard before joining the Navy, then the LMPD.

The tradition of working Thunder is passed down year to year as new Guardsmen receive the opportunity to serve and support the Commonwealth.

“I’ve been in the Guard for two and a half years, and this is the first time I’ve worked Thunder,” said Pfc. Jaylen Allen.

Allen, a MP assigned to the 438th, added this first to his growing list, he worked his first Kentucky Derby in 2016.

“It’s pretty cool getting to work with the LMPD,” Allen said. “Everyone seems to be pretty nice and on their job. We’re going to be here until midnight.”

Despite the cold weather the event went off as planned, and after the fireworks and cannons went off, the city of Louisville turned its attention to the upcoming Kentucky Derby, and the Kentucky National Guard will be along for the ride.

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