A retired Army captain from Seattle may be up for the Medal of Honor for heroism in Afghanistan.
A retired Army captain from Seattle attended Thursday’s White House ceremony awarding veteran Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer with the Medal of Honor for heroism in a Sept. 8, 2009, battle in Afghanistan.
It’s possible Will Swenson, the Seattle veteran, may someday receive his own Medal of Honor in recognition of his courageous actions during the same battle.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Swenson has been recommended for the medal by Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, who last month reopened an investigation into the battle.
The Journal report was written by Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense who spent extensive time embedded with U.S. troops to research his book, “The Wrong War,” which was published in February.
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In the Journal story, West writes that Swenson “quietly resigned” with no recognition for his valor. But Allen, the Army general, decided to recommend Swenson for the medal despite a lapse of two years because it was the right thing to do.
Meyer and Swenson were serving with Marines and Army units that were training Afghans. Early on Sept. 8, 2009, they were headed to a meeting with villagers near the Pakistan border. Instead, they were attacked in a well-planned ambush.
Meyer repeatedly fought to rescue comrades and recover bodies. During the fight he killed at least eight Taliban, evacuated wounded and provided fire cover for Marines and soldiers whose lives were in peril, according to his Medal of Honor citation.
Swenson joined Meyer in a Humvee that faced heavy enemy fire as they recovered the bodies of four Marines. In an interview published in the Air Force Times, Meyer said, “I’ll put it this way. If it wasn’t for him (Swenson), I wouldn’t be alive.”
Swenson’s actions that day were chronicled by Jonathan Landay, a McClatchy Newspapers reporter who was embedded with the unit at the time of the ambush. Landay, who helped evacuate a wounded soldier, wrote a first-person account of the ambush.
Swenson could not be reached for comment Thursday by The Seattle Times.
Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or firstname.lastname@example.org