- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

DEL RIO, Texas

Two National Guard members saved the life of a Latin American national last week after she tried to flee from U.S. Border Patrol agents by jumping into the Rio Grande River here.

“Actions like this exemplify the character of our National Guard troops,” says Lt. Col. Jose Figueroa, commander of the Guard’s Task Force Border Support group in Del Rio. “It is our duty to assist the Border Patrol, including events like this.

“Our soldiers reacted exactly how they were trained as part of a Border Patrol-National Guard team.”

The Guard troops were working with Border Patrol agents near Carrizo Springs, Texas, when the Guard’s entry-identification team spotted a group of suspected illegal aliens crossing the Rio Grande into the United States.

Border Patrol officials gave this account: When an agent confronted the illegals, several attempted to evade arrest by running back into the river. A woman became distressed and went under while attempting to swim toward Mexico.

The agent, with several illegal aliens in custody, called for assistance. Two National Guardsmen working nearby responded. They both jumped into the water and saved the woman by pulling her from the muddy river.

The woman was examined at a local hospital as a precaution and later released to the custody of the Border Patrol. Neither she nor the guardsmen were identified.

Her rescuers are part of Operation Jump Start, President Bush’s plan to use 6,000 Guard troops to better secure America’s southern border while the Border Patrol recruits, hires and trains 6,000 new agents.

“We were fortunate to have our National Guard partners present to assist us in saving a life,” says Chief Randy Hill, who heads the Border Patrol’s Del Rio border sector. “The selfless actions of these guardsmen epitomize the important assistance that the National Guard brings to the Border Patrol and the border area.”

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