RIO GRANDE VALLEY –

In the battle for the border, Border Patrol agents are under attack. Two agents were recently struck with rocks on the Rio Grande.

“They’re buddies of mine. They’re friends of mine, ” said Randy De Leon. He’s a Border Patrol agent, who is breaking his silence.

“They’re my family. And anybody would do just about anything for family,” he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

De Leon was raised in West Texas and is the third of four children. The all-star athlete moved to the Rio Grande Valley to be with his grandmother.

He earned a criminal justice degree from UTPA and was honored, after he and his brother pulled an elderly woman from a home that exploded.

He met his wife Luisa and they have four children.

The Border Patrol is part of their family. The field training officer said, “I believe in what I do. I really do. I believe in the badge I wear, the patches I wear, the uniform I wear…”

“There’s a saying in the Border Patrol: One man, one river. And I try to be that one man sometimes.”

While De Leon fought on the frontline for eight years, one day in 2010 will stay with him forever.

“I remember that night clearly. I was working the evening shift. I was training,” recalls De Leon.

The Border Patrol agent and a trio of trainees were near Hidalgo on March 29, 2010. They heard drug smugglers were on the move and split up. De Leon parked his unit near the river.

“Within 20 minutes, the vehicle was coming down to load up,” he said.

He remembered 10 to 15 drug mules were packing drugs into a vehicle. “They loaded up roughly… I’d say roughly 1,000 pounds in a matter of seconds,” De Leon said.

He approached the vehicle head on. “When he saw me, he did a U-turn and went back to the river,” he told us.

The riverbank was recently covered with concrete rocks to prevent erosion. “I knew that he wasn’t going to drive down and splash down, which was a trend at the time,” explained the agent. “So I backed off hoping I would give him enough time to basically bail out and just run down and abandon the load.”

But the group didn’t run.

“They just started throwing the rocks,” said De Leon. “I’m getting attacked from both sides. … It’s like a massive hail storm.”

More than a dozen men hurled chucks of concrete at the agent. The rocks shattered every window of his vehicle. A piece of concrete about the size of a football flew toward the agent.

“It hit my right side of the face,” he said. “I’m a big believer that my hat and my glasses protected me, for the most part, from losing my eye. Because I think it deflected off the bill of my hat and deflected down and caught this whole side of my face.”

Despite his injuries, De Leon continued to chase the smugglers’ vehicle. “I didn’t want to give up on it,” he told us. “I was like, if this is happening to me, I want that guy bad, you know, even more now.”

“I can feel the blood rushing down my face. I can’t see out of this eye. It’s like blurry and my head’s ringing. And I’m just wiping the blood off of my hand and my face,” De Leon said. “And I’m chasing the vehicle, and I’m putting on the radio that I need backup immediately.”

Agents scrambled to get him into an ambulance. De Leon asked another agent if his face was crushed in. “He’s like, ‘No. It’s just a, it’s just a scratch. It’s a cut,'” recalled De Leon.

It wasn’t just a cut.

“I had to get three stitches in my eyeball. One of the bones that was broken was the ocular bowl, which holds up your eyeball. … They literally shattered it in half. And my eyeball was sinking and falling back into my head. And I had two surgeries, reconstructive surgeries on the right side of my face, where they placed four titanium plates in my face to repair the damage,” explained De Leon.

“A lot of people don’t really see the damage anymore. I think the doctors did a fantastic job.”