Tennessee governor meets with troops ahead of border deployment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee flew across the state Saturday afternoon to meet with members of the Tennessee National Guard ahead of their deployment to the southern U.S. border.

The event happened nearly a month after Lee and a dozen other Republican governors traveled to Texas to discuss border security. 

During that February visit, Lee committed to deploying two waves of Tennessee active-duty soldiers to support the Lone Star State’s efforts to improve border security. 

On Saturday, March 2, Lee and his wife flew from John C. Tune Airport to Millington-Memphis Airport, where he greeted Maj. Gen. Warner Ross as soon as he stepped off the plane. NewsNation affiliate WKRN’s Blake Eason served as the pool reporter for the trip.

After arriving at the Millington Tennessee Army National Guard Armory, Ross addressed several dozen troops who volunteered for a border deployment, saying he asked for 100 soldiers to volunteer, but roughly 400 offered to help.

The group of approximately 50 Tennessee National Guard members at the armory was the first of two waves that will be deployed through the spring for “Operation Lone Star,” according to officials.

Lee told the soldiers it was an honor to stand before them. Then, as he described his recent border visit — calling the various acts of human and drug trafficking a “crisis for our country — the governor said things have to change and the troops are part of that change.

“It’s not lost on us that your family serves, as well,” Lee said, adding that he and his wife will pray for the soldiers and their families as they support America by carrying out this mission.

According to the governor, the lives of roughly 7 million Tennesseans are affected by what’s happening at the southern border, so both Army and Air National Guard members are involved in this mission. Lee also shared how proud he is of the way Tennesseans volunteer.

“America continues to face an unprecedented border crisis, and people across the nation are experiencing the devastating consequences of rising crime, drug trafficking and human trafficking,” said Lee. “Governors are working together, taking immediate action to do what the federal government won’t do, and that is secure our border. I commend Tennessee’s National Guard troops for answering this important call to service and providing critical support.”

Multiple lawmakers were in attendance at Saturday’s event — including U.S. Rep. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., state Rep. Chris Hurt, state Rep. Debra Moody, state Rep. Chris Todd, state Sen. Brent Taylor, and state Sen. Ed Jackson — so they joined Lee and his wife to mingle with the soldiers following the address.

Border Report

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