Nevada guard aids Border Patrol | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada guard aids Border Patrol

Brad Horn
Appeal Photographer/Writer
Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal A family in Nogales, Mexico, near the border of Nogales, Ariz., does laundry on Tuesday afternoon. The average worker in the area near the border in Nogales, Mexico, makes $8 per day. More than 300,000 people live in Nogales.
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NOGALES, Arizona – Zipping down dirt roads and kicking up dust with dirt bikes or quads near Deer Run Road in Carson City is fun for Robert Pool. He also likes to fix them.

He’s now using his hobby to help out with the United States government’s latest operation.

The Nevada Army National Guard sent 93 soldiers from the 150th Maintenance Company based in Carson City and Las Vegas to the Mexico-Arizona border town of Nogales on July 29, as part of President Bush’s Operation Jump Start plan.

While Nevada soldiers weren’t sent directly to the border – the front lines – their missions two miles from the port of entry were just as important.

Staff Sgt. Pool, a member of the company, has been in the Nevada Army National Guard for 11 years.

ATVs are his specialty.

“I kind of requested to work on the quads here,” Pool said. “It’s fun, and I have quads and dirt bikes myself that I ride in Carson City. It’s amazing how many hours they have on these things and they’re still alive. We’re keeping the vehicles up, without these things (the Border Patrol) couldn’t be patrolling.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Pool had repaired 20 quads.

When Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano visited the maintenance garage at the Nogales Border Patrol Station on Tuesday, she applauded the efforts of the Nevada National Guard.

“The Nevada Guard is doing a lot of great things,” Napolitano said. “One of the things they are doing is helping with repair and maintenance with Border Patrol, which has two benefits.

“One, it allows us to get those vehicles out for more hours. Two, it frees up Border Patrol agents from having to fix the cars, so they can drive them and stop illegal immigration. That’s exactly what was envisioned when operation Jump Start was conceived.”

And the effects can already be seen, according to Jesus “Chuy” Rodriguez, a supervisory border patrol agent in the public affairs office.

Between Oct. 1, 2005, and Aug. 17, 2006, the Tucson, Ariz., Sector of the Border Patrol apprehended 357,000 illegal aliens.

Rodriguez said apprehensions are down 10 percent in that area, and that can be attributed to the work the National Guard is doing in repairing fences and vehicles, conducting routine surveillance, and performing administrative duties for the Border Patrol.

Rodriguez said some illegals attempting to cross the border will tape or tie carpet to their shoes so Border Patrol agents can’t track them. These are usually the drug smugglers, Rodriguez said. Agents can tell the time and direction the person is traveling from the footprints they leave.

While the soldiers miss home and are eager to return to their families and a normal routine, Nevada maintenance company Capt. Amy Klima said some can’t wait to return to help the Border Patrol.

“They’d work seven days a week if we’d let them,” Klima said. “We have a lot of soldiers that want to come back to work full time. They’re sad to be leaving, it’s been a good mission.”

During an awards ceremony in Phoenix on Friday, 30 soldiers in the company received “coins of excellence.” The coins are state-issued commemorative coins from Nevada and Arizona.

The maintenance unit is scheduled to arrive back in Reno 2 p.m. today at Mercury Airfield at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

• Photographer/reporter Brad Horn accompanied the Nevada Army National Guard on their Mission to Arizona. He can be contacted at bhorn@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1222.