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Hometown Hero: Joel Arends, South Dakota

arendsJ_cardFront Joel Arends

  • Home State: South Dakota
  • Awarded: Bronze Star

The Story:

Then-1st Lt. Arends and his team of 30 soldiers operated in and around Baghdad from February 2004 to April 2005. They were responsible for catching a number of terrorists, including one carrying bomb-making materials, jidhadist propaganda and large sums of cash. The terrorist claimed to be a professor at a major university in the United States. They also captured one of Saddam Hussein’s personal bodyguards.

Another time, Arends’ team rescued Iraqi civilians from burning vehicles when insurgents attacked a checkpoint near their patrol area. Members of the team rushed into the flames and pulled several Iraqi civilians out of burning vehicles and administered lifesaving medical treatment.

For his efforts, Arends was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in March 2005. Arends is now a Captain in the Army Reserve.