An unidentified U.S. service member was found dead near Ajo, Arizona, on Sunday, according to a statement from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, home of U.S. Northern Command. It is the second such death this month. On June 1, U.S. Army PFC Steven Hodges was found dead near Nogales. Both service members were assigned to the Southwest Border Support Mission, President Trump’s deployment of several thousand active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Both deaths are under investigation, but foul play isn’t suspected in either case.
Hodges had been assigned to “Task Force Red Lion,” a mobile surveillance operation, with the 1st “Tomahawk” Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, part of the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. His body was found on federal land, but few other details have been reported. It is also unclear what the unidentified service member was doing when he died. Ajo is the nearest community to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, where the Department of Homeland Security plans to build new border fencing.
Other than hanging razor wire through border towns and spending the summer painting border fencing near Calexico, California, to improve its “aesthetic appearance,” it’s not clear what U.S. troops are doing at the U.S. border. In Arizona, the Tucson Sentinel reports, “the weather has been hot and dry: temperatures in Arizona’s west deserts peaked at about 98 degrees on Sunday, with humidity below 10 percent.”
*story by The Week