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Missouri soldier awarded medal for saving drowning family

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FORT BLISS, Texas – A Missouri National Guardsman deployed along the Texas-Mexico border received the Soldier Medal earlier this month for rescuing a mother and her two children from drowning while attempting to cross the Rio Grande.

Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Lemon was deployed with the Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 17, 2022, when he received a request for a river rescue, south of Eagle Pass, from the U.S. Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The Missouri Army National Guard claims the Rio Grande current was about to sweep away a woman and two young children. Lemon, a staff sergeant at the time, went to the river bank, donned a flotation device, and attempted to toss the family a rope.

Unfortunately, high vegetation made it difficult for the rope to land near the family. Lemon went to another location along the river and attempted to toss the rope to the mother again, but to no avail.

Lemon learned a rescue boat was approximately 45 minutes away and feared the woman and her children would either succumb to hypothermia or be swept away and drown. Lemon tied a rope and life buoy around his waist and entered the river, while two other soldiers secured the other end of the rope.

Lemon navigated the river, secured the family, and brought them back to shore. Lemon and the family were treated for exhaustion and hypothermia.

Major Gen. Matthew Smith, commander of Joint Task Force North, presented Lemon with the medal on November 2.

At present, Lemon serves with the Missouri Army National Guard’s 1241st Transportation Company.

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