History Wars Afghanistan War

This sailor earned a Bronze Star for leading a clandestine team that rescued 961 people in Afghanistan

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Trindle led her team amongst the chaos at Kabul Aiport to rescue 961 Americans and Afghan allies (U.S. Marine Corps)

Kristen Trindle works in the office of Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) as his deputy national security adviser. She began working for the senator as an intern six years ago. Trindle is also a Princton graduate and a Navy Reservist. In 2021, she took a leave of absence from the senator’s office to deploy to Afghanistan.

Kristen Trindle (center) with Sen. Tom Cotton (left) and Rep. Peter Meijer (right) after receiving her Bronze Star (Image: twitter.com/RepMeijer)

Sent to Kabul, Trindle served as the aide-de-camp to the general in charge of the evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport. During the frantic evacuation, Trindle and the rest of the team were charged with evacuating as many Americans and Afghan allies as possible as the Taliban took over the country. “For weeks, she was everywhere at once, creating on-the-fly methods to screen evacuees, coordinating evacuation efforts with counterparts from four countries—even helping orphans in the chaos of Kabul airport,” Sen. Cotton said on the Senate floor.

In addition to these duties, Trindle volunteered to leave the headquarters and lead a clandestine team out into the city. The team’s mission was to locate and recover Americans and Afghan allies who were struggling to make it through the Taliban checkpoints and to the airport. “These dangerous rescue missions often required Lt. Trindle to go outside the wire to rescue highly vulnerable evacuees. She executed these missions in the dead of night, despite confirmed threats, within sight of the enemy,” said Sen. Cotton. “Armed Taliban fighters were regularly within 100 yards of her position, beating and whipping civilians—and menacing Americans. Lt. Trindle was unphased by this danger. She carried on with the mission.”

In total, Trindle and her team rescued 961 Americans and Afghan allies during the evacuation of Kabul. Sen. Cotton noted that among those rescued were children, pregnant women, injured civilians, Afghan military generals, helicopter pilots, translators, and even an Afghan Supreme Court Justice. For her actions in Kabul, Trindle was awarded the Bronze Star which was presented to her by Sen. Cotton. “As the official account of Lt. Trindle’s action notes, she ‘achieved 100% mission success in the face of unparalleled chaos,'” Sen. Cotton noted. “I would add that Lt. Trindle met ‘unparalleled chaos’ with unparalleled courage. She deserves every bit of this high honor—and she deserves her country’s sincere gratitude.”