When it comes to creating heroes, let’s leave that to Hollywood. But when it comes to honoring those serving in our armed forces, let’s stick to the truth.
President Obama must decide on a resubmitted recommendation for awarding the Medal of Honor to former Army Capt. William Swenson of Seattle by Sept. 8. If the recommendation is allowed to expire, the only way it can be revived is by an act of Congress.
The battle at Ganjgal, Afghanistan, has already resulted in a Medal of Honor for Dakota Meyer, who was a 21-year-old Marine corporal on Sept. 8, 2009, when 90 Afghan soldiers, border police and U.S. Marine and Army trainers walked into an ambush that killed 15 of them and left 28 wounded.
When Meyer received the nation’s highest award for valor, the narrative supplied by the Marines said he rescued two dozen Afghan soldiers, saved the lives of 13 U.S. servicemen and recovered the bodies of four dead comrades.
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Much of that was embellishment. Witnesses said Meyer — and Swenson — did brave enemy fire more than once to bring out Afghan wounded and the American dead, but Meyer didn’t rescue as many Afghans or save the lives of as many Americans as the Marine account said.
Swenson was also recommended for the Medal of Honor, but his narrative was “lost” from the Army computer system, raising questions about disagreements between the Army and Marine accounts of Ganjgal. Five days after the battle, he criticized the top U.S. commanders’ restrictions on the use of artillery and air support that was slow in coming to the rescue.
Other servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan have been the victims of flimsy attempts at either propaganda or suppression. Jessica Lynch, a POW in Iraq, testified before Congress that the Pentagon “story of the little girl Rambo … who went down fighting” was not true.
The Pentagon tried to cover up that former NFL player Pat Tillman died from friendly fire in Afghanistan, even awarding him a Silver Star posthumously.
The deeds of our soldiers should be allowed to speak for themselves. False attempts to make heroes of them only cast doubt on what they did and dishonor them.
President Obama should approve the resubmitted recommendation for Swenson, based on true accounts of his actions — nothing more and nothing less.