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Florida National Guard ‘really enjoying’ mission on southern border

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Members of the Florida National Guard are currently patrolling the US southern border with Mexico in Texas.

Many of them are from the Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach 124th Infantry armories.

Lt. Col. Robert Virant is the commander of the First Battalion, 124th Infantry Florida National Guardsmen deployed to the southern border.

Virant told WPTV that Guardsmen arrived at the border on May 21 and went to work helping the Texas National Guard.

“The job that the Florida National Guard people are doing is doing roving patrols,” Virant said. “We’re doing boat operations as well as static security point coverage.”

Lt. Col. Robert Virant talks about the work the Florida National Guard is doing on the southern border.

WPTV

Lt. Col. Robert Virant talks about the work the Florida National Guard is doing on the southern border.

Virant said Guard members are in Del Rio, Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas.

“Our mission is to prevent, detect and intercept any transnational criminal activity at any point of entry,” Virant said. “We are all citizen soldiers. We know when circumstances are beyond our control and life-altering, but we are professionals in the National Guard and we are here to help Texans.”

Virant could not speak about specific numbers of encounters with migrants at the border.

The days and nights have been long, but he said morale is high among the many members of the Florida guard.

State

Florida National Guard on the ground at the Texas-Mexico border

18:44 May 30, 2023

“They can range from a 10-hour day to a 14-hour day because it’s shift work. The time you wake up depends on what shift you’re on,” Virant said. “The soldiers really enjoy the mission. The housing is good. The food is fantastic and we really enjoy working with our counterparts in the Texas National Guard.”

This Florida National Guard mission comes on the heels of a recent overseas deployment and support in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Virant said Guard members are eager to help because they have received help before.

“We dealt with a lot of hurricanes and with this past hurricane, Ian, I know we had people come from Texas come to help us with that in Fort Myers,” Virant said. “So it really means a lot that we can reciprocate and help another state in their time of need.”

The Florida National Guard does not have a specific date for when they will return home, but many expect it to be early June.

For now, they are on patrol, following their motto: always ready, always there.



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