Montana National Guard Soldiers Deployed to Texas' Southern Border Return Home

Texas Border Governors
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, center, and Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, right, stand with fellow governors as they listen to Texas Gov Greg Abbott, seated left, during a news conference along the Rio Grande to discuss Operation Lone Star and border concerns, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Montana National Guard soldiers have returned home from their deployment to the southern border to support Texas through Operation Lone Star, the governor's office said.

Gov. Greg Gianforte met Monday with what his office described as a "team of 10 volunteers" and welcomed them home over breakfast at Shellie's Country Café in Helena. His staff said he spoke with them about their mission to provide vehicle maintenance and repair. The group returned to Montana on May 12.

"I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of our soldiers who stepped up to the plate to answer the call for assistance to address the national security crisis that is our open southern border," Gianforte said in a news release. "With the support of Republican governors, Texas' efforts have led to a decline in illegal crossings. Action from the Biden administration is long overdue."

The soldiers deployed April 8 were sent in response to a request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to support the state of Texas' efforts to secure the southern border.

According to Abbott's office, Operation Lone Star personnel "detect and repel illegal crossings, arrest human smugglers and cartel gang members, and stop the flow of deadly drugs like fentanyl into" the United States.

The Montana soldiers on state active duty were selected following the governor's directive to MTNG leadership to identify ways in which Montana could support Texas's border mission through Operation Lone Star.

Since the launch of the operation, over 500,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended and nearly 43,000 criminal arrests have been made with enough fentanyl seized to kill every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico, Gianforte's office said.

Maj. Gen. J. Peter Hronek, adjutant general for Montana, said he was "extremely proud of the work these volunteer Soldiers accomplished in Texas."

"Being part of the National Guard means sacrifices, including time away from home, your full-time jobs, and your family," he said in the news release. "Thank you for always answering the call and stepping forward to represent us on this important mission."

The governor's emergency appropriation fund covered the cost of the mission, estimated at $227,000, his office said.

After the breakfast, Gianforte declared May Military Appreciation Month in Montana.

He said members of the U.S. military put their lives on the line.

"We owe our servicemen and women an enormous debt, it's an honor to recognize them this month and every month," Gianforte said in the news release.

In late 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense, under President Joe Biden, sent Montana National Guard members to the border.

Soldiers quietly participated in a federal mission at the southern border with U.S. Customs and Border Protection under a joint task force aimed at combating the flow of illegal drugs and organized crime, Lee's Montana State News Bureau reported in February.

The Montana National Guard's assistance to federal border enforcement agencies was effectuated without the public acknowledgement that typically accompanies the deployment and return of Montana's service members. It's the only time since 2014 a deployment ceremony was not publicized prior to the mission.

Seaborn Larson contributed to this story. Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021 or


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