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Sen. Tom Cotton: Honoring Navy Reservist and my Deputy National Security Advisor Kristen Trindle for Kabul deployment

PRESS RELEASE

Today, Sen. Tom Cotton spoke on the US Senate floor to honor Lt. Kristen Trindle, a Navy Reservist and also member of the senator’s staff.

A video of Cotton’s remarks may be found here. Text of the remarks is below.

America’s retreat from Afghanistan was a dark chapter for our country. We all remember the terrible scenes of desperate people clinging to the undersides of planes, of Taliban thugs beating innocent people, and, most tragically of all, 13 flag-draped caskets containing the remains of brave American servicemen and women, killed by an ISIS suicide bomb. We will never forget those tragic events. They’re grim reminders about the wages of weakness in Washington.

But for every act of cowardice in Washington, for every act of evil by our enemies, there was an act of even greater bravery by our troops. As they always do, America’s heroes redeem even the most forlorn missions through extraordinary action. I’d like to recognize one of our nation’s heroes today.

Navy Lieutenant Kristen Trindle is a member of my team in the Senate, where she does excellent work as my deputy national security adviser—after starting six years ago as my intern. I know that Lt. Trindle would be too humble to sit beside me today if she had any idea what I’m about to say about her. But last year, she took a leave of absence from her Senate duties to deploy with the Navy Reserves. That deployment took her to Kabul—the eye of the storm.

Lt. Trindle served as aide-de-camp to the general in charge of the evacuation. Their mission? To save as many Americans and Afghan allies as possible from the advancing Taliban.

Lt. Trindle immediately proved her worth. 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. 

Those actions alone would have been worthy of commendation, but Lt. Trindle went above and beyond the call of duty. She volunteered to leave the relative safety of headquarters to lead a clandestine extraction team charged with finding and recovering Americans and Afghan allies.

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. 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.

Lt. Trindle and her team rescued an astounding 961 Americans and Afghan allies. That group included young kids, pregnant women, injured civilians, as well as high-ranking generals, helicopter pilots, translators, even an Afghan supreme court justice. Suffice it to say, many of those evacuees would be in jail—or worse—if Lt. Trindle and her team hadn’t been there.

At this time, my staff in Washington and Arkansas were working around the clock to evacuate American citizens. Two of those Americans, a married couple, had visited Afghanistan for a wedding right before being trapped behind enemy lines. They made a harrowing journey through Taliban checkpoints to reach Kabul, where they got stuck for days, unable to get into the airport. They called my office’s evacuation hotline for help, and we guided them as far as we could—to the chaos of the airport gate—while we updated the Coordination Cell just beyond the barricade. Suddenly, Lt. Trindle appeared. You can find cellphone video of the nighttime rescue online. The Americans were screaming for help. Taliban fighters were savagely attacking civilians nearby. Then, over the roar and din of the crowd, came the resolute voice of Lt. Trindle: “She’s with me.” That couple is now home in America in safety. Lt. Trindle was with them.

The nation has awarded Lt. Trindle the Bronze Star for her actions during the evacuation. I had the great honor of presenting that medal to her earlier today.

As the official account of Lt. Trindle’s action notes, she “achieved 100% mission success in the face of unparalleled chaos.” 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.

Thank you very much, Kristen.

A video of Cotton’s remarks may be found here. Text of the remarks is below.

America’s retreat from Afghanistan was a dark chapter for our country. We all remember the terrible scenes of desperate people clinging to the undersides of planes, of Taliban thugs beating innocent people, and, most tragically of all, 13 flag-draped caskets containing the remains of brave American servicemen and women, killed by an ISIS suicide bomb. We will never forget those tragic events. They’re grim reminders about the wages of weakness in Washington.

But for every act of cowardice in Washington, for every act of evil by our enemies, there was an act of even greater bravery by our troops. As they always do, America’s heroes redeem even the most forlorn missions through extraordinary action. I’d like to recognize one of our nation’s heroes today.

Navy Lieutenant Kristen Trindle is a member of my team in the Senate, where she does excellent work as my deputy national security adviser—after starting six years ago as my intern. I know that Lt. Trindle would be too humble to sit beside me today if she had any idea what I’m about to say about her. But last year, she took a leave of absence from her Senate duties to deploy with the Navy Reserves. That deployment took her to Kabul—the eye of the storm.

Lt. Trindle served as aide-de-camp to the general in charge of the evacuation. Their mission? To save as many Americans and Afghan allies as possible from the advancing Taliban.

Lt. Trindle immediately proved her worth. 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. 

Those actions alone would have been worthy of commendation, but Lt. Trindle went above and beyond the call of duty. She volunteered to leave the relative safety of headquarters to lead a clandestine extraction team charged with finding and recovering Americans and Afghan allies.

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. 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.

Lt. Trindle and her team rescued an astounding 961 Americans and Afghan allies. That group included young kids, pregnant women, injured civilians, as well as high-ranking generals, helicopter pilots, translators, even an Afghan supreme court justice. Suffice it to say, many of those evacuees would be in jail—or worse—if Lt. Trindle and her team hadn’t been there.

At this time, my staff in Washington and Arkansas were working around the clock to evacuate American citizens. Two of those Americans, a married couple, had visited Afghanistan for a wedding right before being trapped behind enemy lines. They made a harrowing journey through Taliban checkpoints to reach Kabul, where they got stuck for days, unable to get into the airport. They called my office’s evacuation hotline for help, and we guided them as far as we could—to the chaos of the airport gate—while we updated the Coordination Cell just beyond the barricade. Suddenly, Lt. Trindle appeared. You can find cellphone video of the nighttime rescue online. The Americans were screaming for help. Taliban fighters were savagely attacking civilians nearby. Then, over the roar and din of the crowd, came the resolute voice of Lt. Trindle: “She’s with me.” That couple is now home in America in safety. Lt. Trindle was with them.

The nation has awarded Lt. Trindle the Bronze Star for her actions during the evacuation. I had the great honor of presenting that medal to her earlier today.

As the official account of Lt. Trindle’s action notes, she “achieved 100% mission success in the face of unparalleled chaos.” 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.

Thank you very much, Kristen.

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