Alumnus Assists in Rescue along U.S.-Mexico Border

Two soldiers wearing OCP

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Samuel Mueller ’17 and Staff Sgt. Michael Matthews worked together to rescue a woman and her child from an El Paso, Texas, canal in June. Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense

An alumnus is credited with helping to save two lives during an incident that took place along the U.S.-Mexico border in June.

The El Paso Times reported that Army 1st Lt. Samuel Mueller ’17 and Staff Sgt. Michael Matthews, both assigned to a mobile surveillance team assisting U.S. Border Patrol Agents, were watching over a canal in downtown El Paso, Texas, June 20 when they saw a migrant woman and her child enter the canal, struggle in the fast-moving currents, and then go under completely.

The newspaper reported that Matthews jumped in the water to rescue the mother and child while Mueller used his shirt as a makeshift lifeline until U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived with a lifeline. The mother and child, reported to be from Guatemala, were uninjured in the rescue.

“My team leader reacted decisively and without hesitation,” Mueller said in a statement. “He jumped into the canal in full uniform and boots to help a woman and her child in need.”

Both Mueller and Matthews are assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Lt. Col. William Canda, squadron commander, praised the actions of Mueller and Matthews.

“Though we have very specific instructions to ensure [Customs and Border Protection] forces are in the lead to interact with immigrants crossing the border, I made it clear to my soldiers that they are authorized in every case to help when they feel human life is at stake,” said Canda in a statement.

  • Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing