Support our mission
Members of the Texas National Guard on patrol in May along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Members of the Texas National Guard on patrol in May along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Rose L. Thayer/Stars and Stripes )

AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas Army National Guard soldier assigned to a state-sponsored mission at the border with Mexico died Thursday in an incident not related to the deployment, state military officials said.

The soldier’s death is under investigation and the name of the deceased is being withheld until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.

Officials for the Texas Military Department did not respond to questions about where the death occurred or the circumstances. They also did not say what agency is investigating the soldier’s death.

Nearly 6,000 troops are deployed on the state mission known as Operation Lone Star, Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer, commander of the Texas National Guard, told state lawmakers this week. The mission is under the command of Gov. Greg Abbott and began in March 2021. At its peak earlier this year, 10,000 troops were assigned to the mission.

The troops work alongside state police to patrol the border for illegal activity such as trespassing, drug smuggling or human trafficking. Troops are also building fences along the border.

The Texas National Guard has confirmed the deaths of two other soldiers this year – one was related to the mission and the other was not.

Spc. Dajuan Lester Townes, 19, died in February in the town of Brackettville after being accidentally shot with a personally owned firearm.

Sgt. Bishop Evans, 22, died in April while on duty along the Rio Grande in the city of Eagle Pass. The soldier jumped into the river to rescue a migrant who was struggling to swim and he was swept away too. Guard officials later confirmed Evans did not have access to water safety equipment or a flotation device because it was on back order.

author picture
Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up