Home Local News LIfe-saving gear for troops at border is on order but not delivered

LIfe-saving gear for troops at border is on order but not delivered


AUSTIN — The Texas National Guard soldier who died last week attempting to help two migrants who struggled to cross the Rio Grande was not equipped with a flotation device and had not been trained in water rescue techniques, the state’s top military commander told a legislative panel Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer, who was appointed last month by Gov. Greg Abbott to lead the Texas Military Department, said the state has only received 43 of the first 150 flotation devices needed for troops assigned to patrol the border with Mexico as part of Operation Lone Star. And, the general added, soldiers who are not specifically assigned to water teams are instructed not to enter the Rio Grande as part of their mission.

The body of National Guard Spc. Bishop Evans, 22, of Arlington, was found Monday about 2 miles up river from Eagle Pass after a four-day search that started when he did not resurface in his effort to assist the migrants in distress. Suelzer said Evans has been posthumously promoted to sergeant.

Suelzer and Brig. Gen. Monie Ulis, the Texas Guard’s deputy adjutant general, said Evans likely made a split-second decision to put his life at risk once he saw the two people struggling to cross the wide and fast-moving section of the Rio Grande.

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