Living Life in the Korengal Valley
Story by Sgt. Matthew Moeller, 08.24.2009
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - As bullets started to rain down
on Baker Company's position, a Soldier sighed, and said,
annoyingly, "Well here we go."
Over the next twenty minutes the service members fired
everything from bullets to curse words at the invisible enemy
attacking from the surrounding hills.
"Just once I'd like to come out here and not get shot at,"
said an exasperated U.S. Army Sgt. Graham Mullins, of
Columbia, Mo., using a four-foot stone wall for cover. "Just
Near the end, two F-15 fighter jets pummeled the insurgent
forces with 500-pound bombs, and an eerie silence fell across
the battlefield. For the U.S. service members, it was just
another morning in the notorious Korengal Valley.
Nicknamed "The Valley of Death," the 2nd Battalion, 12th
Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Soldiers have called
the isolated valley, in Afghanistan's Kunar province, home,
since arriving in June.
"This place is definitely its own monster; there are a lot of
other dangerous places in Afghanistan, but I would say this
place lives up to the hype," said U.S. Army Capt. Mark Moretti,
Co. B. commander, and New Windsor, N.Y., native.
"It's all just a waiting game," said a Co. B Soldier, during a
"routine" patrol. "We come out here, and wait for them to open
fire on us."
Seeing some of the toughest fighting in Afghanistan on a daily
basis, many Baker Co. Soldiers find humor in the idea that
many of their fellow Soldiers are envious of their assignment,
who often refer to the almost constant battle as the
"I would tell them to seriously reconsider their thinking
positions," U.S. Army Spc. Guadalupe Gardenias, a B Co.
Soldier, said, laughing.
Living in conditions that rival the third-world villages they
patrol, the tiny U.S outposts dotting the valley walls are in
stark contrast to other American mega-bases in Afghanistan,
such as Bagram Airfield, which offers everything from personal
Internet to American fast food restaurants.
Here, if a resupply helicopter gets cancelled, Soldiers miss
not only letters from home, but risk having to ration their
At the Korengal Outpost, Soldiers use outhouses and hope to
shower once a week to conserve water. At nearby Restrepo
Outpost, Soldiers lack any running water, and eat field
rations for every meal.
"The conditions out here are tough, and it's a tough fight,"
said Moretti. "But given the chance, I don't think anyone
would want to leave."
Despite daily gun battles, poor hygiene and tortuous terrain,
the men of Baker Co. seem content living their life in the
"Valley of Death." When asked if they would take an easier
assignment, the answer was always the same. "Not unless
everyone else came with me."
To these Soldiers the debate back home about the war in
Afghanistan means little. To them, it's the brotherhood, born
in combat, keeping these Soldiers motivated to stand shoulder
"Before I came into the Army a lot of people would talk about
brothers in arms, and I thought it was kind of cheesy, but
being out here, I can definitely say that it brings us a lot
closer," said Gardanias. "Cause no matter what we say, or what
we do, nobody besides us is going to know what we went
through, and what it was like."
Army Soldiers from Baker Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th
Infantry Regiment, patrol the Korengal Valley floor in
Afghanistan's Kunar Province, Aug. 17. The 4th Brigade
Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Soldiers have been
battling insurgents in the valley since arriving in
Army Soldiers with Baker Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th
Infantry Regiment, descend a rocky staircase while on
patrol in Afghanistan's Korengal
Valley, Kunar Province, Aug. 17. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th
Infantry Division Soldiers have seen some of the
toughest fighting in Afghanistan since arriving in the valley in June.
U.S. Army Spc. Jesus Sanchez, a native of Mesa, Ariz.,
patrols the Korengal valley floor in Kunar Province,
Afghanistan, Aug. 17. Sanchez is a combat medic with
Baker Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment,
4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
U.S. service members deployed to Afghanistan's Korengal
Valley in Kunar Province endure almost daily gun battles
and have seen some of the toughest fighting in
Army Soldiers with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th
Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry
Division, based at the Korengal Outpost, fire mortar
rounds at insurgent fighting positions in Kunar
province, Afghanistan, Aug. 15. Since arriving to the
valley in June, the Company B mortar-men have fired more
than 1,100 rounds.