FORT BLISS, Texas — A Missouri National Guard soldier was awarded this month for rescuing a family from drowning in Texas.

Maj. Gen. Matthew D. Smith, Commander awarded the Soldier Medal on Nov. 2 to Sgt. 1st Class Aaron S. Lemon, assigned to the 1241st Transportation Company, for rescuing a mother and two toddlers from drowning while attempting to cross the Rio Grande River in Texas on Dec. 17, 2022.

According to the Missouri National Guard, while executing his duties as a non-commissioned officer supporting the Department of Homeland Security Request for Assistance mission, Lemon, a staff sergeant at the time, received a request for throw-ropes from U.S. Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety to rescue a mother and two toddlers attempting to
cross the Rio Grande River south of Eagle Pass, Texas, who were in danger of being
swept away by the swift current.

Lemon responded to the area immediately, assessed the situation, developed a plan, and entered the cold, swiftly moving water to save the family.

Lemon put on a flotation vest, located a position on the bank as close as he could to the struggling family, and attempted to reach them with a throw rope. However, seven-foot-high
natural vegetation limited the distance he could throw the rescue rope. He then
relocated to a second location further upstream and repeated the attempt but fell short
due to the added distance.

The Missouri National Guard says after exhausting all attempts to rescue the family from shore and receiving word that a rescue boat was 45 minutes away, Lemon feared the family would succumb to hypothermia or be swept away and drown.

He secured a rope and lifebuoy around his waist, anchored the other end to two soldiers who remained on the bank, entered the frigid 58-degree water and began his third rescue attempt.

He secured the family with rescue equipment and brought them back to shore. Lemon and the family were treated for hypothermia and exhaustion.

“Sgt. 1st Class Lemon always goes above and beyond in his duties and is very deserving of being recognized for his heroic actions,” said Army National Guard Capt. Aaron Bahm, Commander, 1241st Transportation Company.