Specialist Bishop Evans has been identified as the Texas National Guard soldier who went missing while trying to rescue two migrants from the Rio Grande River near the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday, April 22, 2022, the Texas Military Department said in a press release on Sunday, April 24. Evans, 22, is from Arlington, Texas. He was found dead on Monday, April 25, officials said.
“We are devastated by the loss of a member of our Guard family,” Major General Tom Suelzer, Adjutant General for Texas, said in a statement. “We recognize the selflessness of this heroic Soldier who put his life above others in service to our state and national security. The Texas Military Department sends our deepest condolences to the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”
A search by the Texas Military Department, the Texas Rangers, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Border Patrol lasted several days after Evans “went missing following his selfless efforts to rescue two migrants who appeared to be drowning while crossing the river from Mexico into the U.S.,” National Guard officials said.
The Texas Military Department added, “Dive teams were forced to halt their operations yesterday evening as the river’s current continued at an increased pace, making dive operations very challenging. Search and rescue operations began again early Sunday morning, with the addition of three airboats from the Texas Department of Public Safety.” Evans’ body was found on Monday.
Evans was assigned to Operation Lone Star, an effort by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to tackle what he calls a crisis on the border. Abbott said in a statement, “We are heartbroken to learn of the death of SPC Bishop E. Evans who was reported missing in Eagle Pass on Friday. Our National Guard soldiers risk their lives every day to serve and protect others and we are eternally grateful for the way SPC Evans heroically served his state and country.”
Bishop Evans Joined the Texas Army National Guard in 2019 & Deployed to Kuwait in 2020, Where He Was Assigned to Support Special Operations Forces in Iraq
SPC Bishop Evans, a field artilleryman, joined the Texas Army National Guard in May 2019, the Texas Military Department said in its press release. Evans is assigned to A Battery, 4-133 Field Artillery Regiment, which is based in New Braunfels, Texas, the press release said. According to Evans’ Facebook page, he attended Ben Eielson Jr/Sr High School and Mansfield High School.
“He returned in the fall of 2020 from mobilization to Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait. During this mobilization, his dedication, talents, and tactical prowess led his leadership to regularly assign him to operations in Iraq in support of Special Operations Forces for short periods of time, while then rotating back into Kuwait,” the Texas Military Department added.
In October 2021, Evans posted a photo of the American flag patch on his uniform and wrote, “If I have ever helped you, in any way. I need you to pay me back, by paying it forward. Help others and make my job a bit easier.” When asked by a friend how to do that, Evans, who had been working at food donation sites during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, replied, “Just make life easier for others if you can.. the less people that need help from others, the less they need people to help them. If you donate food, water, or clothes to those that need them, the less people that need food, water, or clothes.”
The 2 Migrants Were Taken Into Custody on Suspicion of ‘Illicit Transnational Narcotics Trafficking’ After They Were Rescued, the Texas Rangers Say
Evans was first reported missing about 9:45 a.m. local time on Friday, April 22. The Texas Military Department said in its first press release, ” Texas Army National Guard Soldier assigned to Operation Lone Star has gone missing along the river during a mission related incident, Friday April 22, 2022 in Eagle Pass, Texas. The Soldier has not been found. We are aware of reports of a fatality, although those reports are inaccurate. The Texas Military Department, Texas DPS and Border Patrol are working rapidly to find the Soldier. More details will be released as they become available.”
In another press release, the Texas Military Department said about Evans, “The service member selflessly attempted to help two migrants who appeared to be drowning as they illegally crossed the river from Mexico to the United States. … Initial reports from the Texas Rangers have determined that the two migrants were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking. They remain in the custody of US Customs and Border Patrol.”
According to the Texas Tribune, “Two soldiers, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, told Military Times and the Tribune that, in the wake of the incident, some commanders in the sector have issued orders banning troops from entering the water without a flotation device. Other units have banned entering the water entirely.” The news site reported that Evans was seen taking off his body armor before getting into the river. After going under, Evans never resurfaced, the Tribune reports.