Medal of Honor Recipient William Swenson
Former Army Capt. William Swenson received the Medal of Honor from President Obama on October 15, 2013 for actions during the Battle of Ganjgal in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on Sept. 8, 2009.
Swenson joined the U.S. Army in 2002. He then attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga., where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course and earned his branch qualification in Infantry.He served one tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. For his final tour in Afghanistan he was assigned to Task Force Phoenix, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan and served as an Afghan Border Police advisor in support of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry).
His civilian education includes a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Seattle University. His military education includes the Infantry Mountain Leader Advanced Marksmanship Course, U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Ranger School, and the Infantry Maneuver Captains Career Course.
Swenson’s awards and decorations include, the U.S. Army Parachutist Badge, the Ranger tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, The Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one campaign star, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon (Numeral 2 device) and the NATO Medal.
Interviewer Robert Jordan, Jr. is an anchor and reporter for WGN-TV News. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Bob’s television career spans more than 40 years. In 1999 he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Loyola University.
His Citation Reads:
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.