Reno soldier decorated

Josh Trudell, a soldier from Reno, put in a year in Afghanistan, most of it in one of the least desirable assignments of the war: The Korengal Valley, known to soldiers as the “valley of death.” Located in northeast Afghanistan along the Pakistan border, control of the valley has been the goal of contending forces of the United States and Afghan insurgents for years.

“[T]he violent Korengal Valley shows the perils of persistence,” reported CBS last week. “Instead of leaving, U.S. troops have for the past several years battled the Taliban to a bloody stalemate.”

Now safely back in the United States and stationed at Fort Hood in Texas, Sgt. Trudell has been awarded the Bronze Star for his “valorous and meritorious actions while engaged in direct combat operations … under the most extreme of circumstances,” according to his citation. The Star is the fourth highest combat award given by the United States.

Trudell is the son of UNR instructor Rebecca Thomas.

Meanwhile, the U.S. battalion commander in the Korengal says he will probably abandon the valley sometime next year. “I have a full-sized company dedicated to a valley with a population of 4,200 people,” Lt. Col. Brian Pearl said. “I am sure there are valleys in Afghanistan with 100,000 people and no U.S. troops. You have got to ask yourself: Why? Why is this one valley so strategically important?”