US

Two Soldiers Found Dead Along Mexico-Arizona Border Died by Suicide, Official Says

By GQ Pan

A medical examiner says two soldiers who were found dead this month while on a border enforcement mission in southern Arizona died by suicide.

Pima County Chief Medical Examiner Greg Hess said on June 27 the soldiers died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, reported Fox News.

Military officials say the circumstances of the deaths are under investigation.

Army officials have released the names of two soldiers on June 25.

The soldier who was found dead near Ajo, Arizona on June 23 was identified 21-year-old Pfc. Kevin J. Christian of Haslet, Texas. Christian was an infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. His death is the second case of a military service member being found dead in Arizona near the Mexican border this month.

On June 1, 20-year-old Pfc. Steven Hodges of Menifee, California, was found dead near Nogales, Arizona. Hodges enlisted in the Army in 2017 and served in the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment since February 2018 as a grenadier. He had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, according to Army Times.

Hodges served as a member of a unit in “Task Force Red Lion,” which entailed mainly mobile surveillance. Task Force Red Lion was part of the deployment of more than 2,000 active-duty troops along the U.S.-Mexico border, ordered by President Donald Trump.

Trump: Additional Armed Border Troops After US Soldiers Held at Gunpoint

Additional armed troops were sent to the U.S.–Mexico border after two U.S. soldiers were held at gunpoint and questioned by Mexican troops on the U.S. side of the border on April 13.

“Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers, probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border. Better not happen again!” Trump said in an April 24 tweet. “We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!”

There are about 5,000 troops deployed at the border, including some 3,000 active-duty and 2,100 National Guard members, The Military Times reported on April 10.

Their mission is to reinforce border barriers and provide logistical support to the Border Patrol, amid a surge in illegal border crossings this year.

The Epoch Times reporter Peter Svab contributed to this report.