I have written about Operation Lone Star here and here. It is an exceedingly stupid mission, generated simply to secure an election. It is fundamentally flawed in so many ways. Chief among its problems is a lack of work for its about 6,500 Guardsmen/women. A close second is the lack of basic equipment. The soldiers lack first aid kits, ballistic vests, and helmets. They also lack federal benefits. If they are hurt or simply ill, they cannot seek Veterans Affairs Department medical care. They are not on federal orders, so they cannot go to the nearest Air Force base or Army post and see the on-post doctors. They must seek medical insurance like any state employee. But, unlike state employees, they have not been briefed on their medical insurance benefits. So, it is not surprising that many have joined a state employee union.
But, the worst oversight surely is what if. In the Army, we would say what if the sh** hits the fan. What if a crisis occurs and a Guardsman is shot or passes out from heat exhaustion on some lonely ranch. Or, what if a Guardsman sees an Illegal Immigrant struggling in the water and jumps in to help. Anyone who knows the Guard knows 99% of Guardsmen will jump in despite being told not to. The reason most Guards guys join is that hero moment. That is a big part of the attraction. As one Guardsmen told me anonymously regarding Operation Lone Star:
“Despite being briefed not to help, we will always do the right thing and help even if it puts our lives in danger.”
Now, the worst has happened. An unidentified Guardsman did just that, he jumped in to help a struggling immigrant. It might have been a child or a woman. Guardsmen are not saints. But, that is what we do, we jump in to save folks. Anyone at state leadership, including the Governor, who does not know that is not paying attention. Now, that Guardsman has disappeared in the Rio Grande. See Army Times report here. The Rio Grande is very shallow in some parts, but in other parts, the water is quite deep, especially at this time of year.
The Texas Military Department, which has minimized the equipment shortages, the pay problems and the lack of genuine work, has issued a statement – anonymously as they always do – saying the Guardsmen has simply disappeared. He has not necessarily drowned. But, if he is missing, that is a big deal. The young man or woman is either AWOL or drowned. No, he has drowned. The TMD is wrong, again. One young Guardsman died doing what Guardsmen do everywhere, trying to save someone he never met.
If the young man or woman had died in the sandbox, his friends and family would know he died for something worthwhile. He would have died defending his country, as he understood his duty. But, to die to help one governor win re-election?? I want to know who will tell this young Guardsman’s family that he gave his life, so Gov. Abbott could win his next election.