National Guard soldier missing after trying to save two migrants in Rio Grande
US Border Patrol agents look for immigrants crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States near Mission, Texas, on July 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/John Moore)

By James Barragán, The Texas Tribune, and Davis Winkie, Military Times

A Texas Army National Guard soldier assigned to Operation Lone Star, Gov. Greg Abbott’s highly touted border initiative, went missing after trying to save two drowning migrants in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass on Friday.

The soldier jumped into the river just after 9:45 a.m., according to documents obtained by Military Times and The Texas Tribune. Despite removing his body armor before entering the Rio Grande, the soldier did not resurface.

Shortly after the incident, rescue efforts began with search parties in boats and helicopters, the documents said. Dive teams arrived on site later in the morning, but the Guard member has not been found.

On Saturday, the Texas Military Department reported the search was still ongoing.

"The search for the missing TMD soldier will continue until we have exhausted all available resources," TMD said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of the soldier."

Military Times and the Tribune are withholding the missing soldier’s name until Texas officials publicly identify the service member.

The agency also said the two migrants were trying to illegally cross the river from Mexico into the United states. Texas Rangers reported the migrants were involved in "illicit transnational narcotics trafficking," and are in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Two soldiers, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, told Military Times and the Tribune that, in the wake of the incident, some commanders in the sector have issued orders banning troops from entering the water without a flotation device. Other units have banned entering the water entirely.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/04/22/national-guard-texas-missing-soldier/.

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