On Friday, a member of the Texas National Guard attempted to assist drowning migrants crossing the border in the Rio Grande. The soldier has been missing since the incident and authorities are still attempting search and rescue efforts.
Bishop E. Evans has been named as the soldier who attempted to help the group of migrants. At the time of his disappearance he was part of Operation Lone Star, ordered by Governor Greg Abbott to assist with swells of illegal migrant activity in key areas along the border. Two of the migrants were detained by border officials and it was later announced that they were a part of a drug trafficking operation.
Specialist Evans was 22 years old and a field artilleryman assigned to A battery, 4-133 Field Artillery Regiment in New Braunfels, Texas. He was originally from Arlington, Texas and had served for 3 years in the Texas National Guard prior to the incident.
The search for Evans was complicated due to weather and conditions in the river following his disappearance. Officials fear he has drowned as a result of those factors. Dive operations were halted Saturday and the search resumed early Sunday morning as the current calmed.
Governor Greg Abbott tweeted a photo of Evans earlier on Sunday where he asked for continued prayers for the search efforts.
In February of 2022, Governor Abbott faced harsh criticism and feedback from service members deployed to the area, citing they did not have the proper equipment, planning or direction. A morale survey was conducted and roughly half of the troop force responded. Of those who responded, more than half criticized Operation Lone Star and senior leadership. Roughly 30% of the respondents took issue with mobilization strength and the involuntary nature of the deployment. 3 out of 4 airmen cited poor benefits associated with the mission, stating that they do not receive federal benefits and compensation because of the nature of the deployment. The operation did not factor into VA benefits, disability coverage or education benefits such as the GI Bill. Respondents also cited issues with being paid on time or at all while serving at the border.
Search efforts are ongoing as of the authoring of this article. The nation looks on as Texas authorities search for this courageous service member.