Two North Dakota Army National Guardsmen are being recognized after they recently rescued migrants from drowning while they were crossing the Rio Grande.

Specialists Luis Alvarado and Gracin Clem, from North Dakota National Guard’s 957th Engineer Company, were conducting Mobile Surveillance Camera site operations for Customs and Border Protection on March 22 in Texas when the two saw five migrants attempting to swim across the Rio Grande, according to a press release.

The migrants were halfway across the river but struggled to stay above water due to strong currents and high winds. Alvarado, who is fluent in Spanish, tried to shout to the migrants on how to cross the river safely.

When Alvarado realized the migrants couldn’t hear him, he and Clem reached for the nylon rope lifelines they received from Border Patrol agents that morning. Two of the migrants went underwater, and the remaining three were struggling.

“There wasn’t time to be scared; it wasn’t an option,” Clem said.

They tied two lifelines together to send down to the migrants, but the currents were too strong.

“You hope that in the moment you react the right way and can do your job the way you were trained to do it,” Alvarado said.

Clem then swam a lifeline to two migrants, rescuing them separately while the other three migrants managed to get across the water.

The migrants reported to CBP agents who rendered aid and transported them for further treatment and processing.

“We are deeply grateful to these North Dakota National Guard soldiers for performing truly lifesaving work as they support the efforts to secure the southern border. Their courage and commitment to helping others in their time of need is incredible. Our National Guard Soldiers are the best in the nation and continually live up to their motto of ‘Always Ready, Always There.’”

Gov. Doug Burgum

Alvarado and Clem have been serving at the southwest border since fall 2021.

Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann praised the two and said they displayed heroic actions.

“These heroic actions demonstrate the unyielding commitment of our Guard members to preserve lives while in the service of our nation. Our entire chain of command is extremely proud of the actions of all our Soldiers.”