First Mexican Military Convoy to U.S. Arrives at Border

9-8-05 - For the first time in at least 159 years, a Mexican Army unit was poised to enter the United States on Thursday, joining a separate Mexican Navy mission with aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The convoy of 45 vehicles and 196 soldiers was scheduled to cross the Columbia Bridge near Laredo, Texas, on Thursday morning and then would head for San Antonio, Gen. Francisco Ortiz Valadez told reporters as his men refueled at a local gas station Wednesday evening.

"Our mission is to give aid to the civilian population affected by the disaster," Ortiz said.

The convoy and a Mexican naval mission arriving near New Orleans are to be the first Mexican military units to operate on U.S. soil since at least 1846, when Mexican troops briefly marched into territory disputed between the two countries along the border of Texas.

Texas had separated from Mexico and joined the United States.