Army Captain Awarded Medal Of Honor For Actions During Afghan Battle   Leave a comment

It’s stories such as today’s awarding of our nation’s highest award that should remind all of us that there are heroes in this world…

A former US army captain whose heroic actions in a deadly Afghan battle were captured on video received the nation’s highest military award, the medal of honor, from President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.

Obama placed the award around the neck of William D Swenson for his actions in a lengthy battle against the Taliban in the Ganjgal valley near the Pakistan border four years ago, which claimed the lives of five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops and an interpreter.

Swenson was serving as a trainer and mentor embedded with the Afghan National Security Forces in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan when they came under fire near dawn on 8 September, 2009. Obama recounted how Swenson dodged enemy fire, without a helmet, and risked his life to recover bodies and help save fellow troops. “Will Swenson was there for his brothers,” Obama said.(The Guardian)

Here is the official citation as read in today’s ceremony….

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Captain William D. Swenson distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as embedded advisor to the Afghan National Border Police, Task Force Phoenix, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan in support of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on September 8, 2009. On that morning, more than 60 well-armed, well-positioned enemy fighters ambushed Captain Swenson’s combat team as it moved on foot into the village of Ganjgal for a meeting with village elders. As the enemy unleashed a barrage of rocket-propelled grenade, mortar and machine gun fire, Captain Swenson immediately returned fire and coordinated and directed the response of his Afghan Border Police, while simultaneously calling in suppressive artillery fire and aviation support. After the enemy effectively flanked Coalition Forces, Captain Swenson repeatedly called for smoke to cover the withdrawal of the forward elements. Surrounded on three sides by enemy forces inflicting effective and accurate fire, Captain Swenson coordinated air assets, indirect fire support and medical evacuation helicopter support to allow for the evacuation of the wounded. Captain Swenson ignored enemy radio transmissions demanding surrender and maneuvered uncovered to render medical aid to a wounded fellow soldier. Captain Swenson stopped administering aid long enough to throw a grenade at approaching enemy forces, before assisting with moving the soldier for air evacuation. With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Swenson unhesitatingly led a team in an unarmored vehicle into the kill zone, exposing himself to enemy fire on at least two occasions, to recover the wounded and search for four missing comrades. After using aviation support to mark locations of fallen and wounded comrades, it became clear that ground recovery of the fallen was required due to heavy enemy fire on helicopter landing zones. Captain Swenson’s team returned to the kill zone another time in a Humvee. Captain Swenson voluntarily exited the vehicle, exposing himself to enemy fire, to locate and recover three fallen Marines and one fallen Navy corpsman. His exceptional leadership and stout resistance against the enemy during six hours of continuous fighting rallied his teammates and effectively disrupted the enemy’s assault. Captain William D. Swenson’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Task Force Phoenix, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division and the United States Army.

Thank you for your service to this country, William Swenson…thank you.

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Posted October 15, 2013 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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