McCreary County Resident Has Role in Kentucky Derby
National Guardsman, Staff Sargent Chris King, supervises the guarding of Derby trophy and roses
When American Pharaoh raced across the finish line to win this year’s Kentucky Derby, residents from McCreary County could take pride in the fact that a local National Guardsman contributed to making the run for the roses a success.
Fish and Wildlife Officer and National Guard Staff Sargent Chris King, for the sixth nonconsecutive time, fulfilled his duties as non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of the National Guard Derby detail. As NCOIC, King supervises six junior enlisted officers in the duties of moving, guarding, and displaying the Kentucky Derby trophy and roses.
The NCOIC and members of the Derby detail are chosen by higher command as individuals to act as ambassadors to Derby guests on behalf of the governor and Commonwealth of Kentucky. Members of the detail are screened before being selected to serve in the detail.
A majority of King’s duties take place in the President’s room which is designed to treat VIP and honored guests of the Kentucky Derby. Over the years, King has met numerous celebrities and politicians including six Kentucky governors, Mitch McConnell, numerous athletes and singers, war heroes, and Todd Palin, husband of the former U. S. vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.
“It was amazing to see how in touch Todd Palin is with everyone,’ King commented. “He showed great admiration for veterans.”
This year, King was especially thrilled to meet Charlie Wilson, a Central Kentucky veteran who was only eighteen years old when his division fought their way into France and who was one of the first to set foot on Normandy Beach on D-Day.
“Charlie Wilson told my detail he was not a hero but just a soldier like us,” King raved about the veteran who actually discovered one of the concentration camps of WW II. “He was awesome!”
King also enjoyed meeting retired Lt. General Leroy Sisco, founder of the Military Warriors Support Foundation, a non-profit organization specializing in building homes and providing services for combat wounded veterans and their families and a former member of the board of directors for the National Rifle Association (NRA).
One of the best perks to being a member of the Kentucky Derby detail is the opportunity to join the winning horse, jockey, trainer, and owner in the winner’s circle with the Derby trophy and roses. King also enjoys the after party held to celebrate each successful Run for the Roses.
Staff Sargent King, who in the past has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, enjoys the Derby detail.
“I’ve looked forward to the Derby every year,” King said. “It’s an honor to represent Kentucky, the National Guard, and the Army. It’s also a great feeling when a celebrity, athlete, or politician comes up and says ‘thank you’ for your service to the country.”