ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas National Guard member who died trying to save two migrants in the Rio Grande was laid to rest Saturday.
Michael Burnett recalled the first time his stepson, Evans, called him "dad."
"When he was little, he used to call me Mr. Mike all the time and it was always, Mr. Mike, Mr. Mike, and finally one day he was like, ‘Can I call you dad?’ And I’m like, ‘You could’ve called me dad anytime,’ you know," he said. "Bishop’s my hero. Even a dad needs a hero, you know."
Evans, who spent years living with his grandmother in Texas, also lived with his mother and stepfather in Alaska, where Burnett was stationed in the Army.
"We used to go fishing all the time up there," Michael said.
They last saw each other for Evans’ 21st birthday.
"If I could talk to him, I would tell him, I’m so proud of him and I’m so proud of everything he did," Michael said.
The 22-year-old Texas National Guardsman, who served in Iraq and Kuwait, drowned while trying to rescue two migrants from drowning in the Rio Grande.
Photo Courtesy: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, via Twitter
"Always willing to help someone out," Evans’ mother, Jwana Burnett, said of her son.
"That’s the kind of loving, caring person that he was," Michael added.
The migrants survived.
The Texas Military Department said the migrants "were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking." They’re now in custody.
A service was held inside Koinonia Christian Church in Arlington.
Members of the North Texas Patriot Guard Riders led a procession to Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery following the church service.
"It’s terribly heartbreaking," said Mike Moore, with the North Texas Patriot Guard Riders.
They often lead processions at the request of military and first responder families.
"It’s just harder," Moore said. "He’s a hero."
Evans’ stepfather and mother said he always put others before himself.
"But I wasn’t surprised what he did. I wasn’t surprised at all," Michael said.
"He never met someone who wasn’t his friend, and if you weren’t his friend, you would be by the time you got done," Evans’ mother said.
As hundreds gathered to remember Evans, they wiped away tears knowing their son’s act of courage highlights exactly who he was.
"It just shows how many people respected what Bishop did with his life," Michael said. "He wouldn’t want us to be crying for him because he loved helping other people."