The Medal of Honor is the highest honor that a soldier can receive from the United States. Soldiers can earn the Medal of Honor for ‘conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.’ The President of the United States personally awards each soldier this honor. The Army Times recently reported that Captain Swenson, who recently received the Medal of Honor, returned to active duty last month. Captain Swenson left the Army in 2011 and has recently returned to the Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
He received the Medal of Honor in 2011 after his involvement with the war in Afghanistan. He was involved in a battle on September 8th, 2009 in Ganjal where five American service members, nine Afghan troops, and an Afghan interpreter died. In addition, the sixty-person ambush caused over a dozen other troops to be wounded in battle. The ambush took place in a mountainside village in Kunar province after an American-Afghan patrol was ambushed. The battle has been noted for its incredible difficulty. During the battle, American service members had little access to their ammunition and assistance from other service members.
At the time, Swenson held the position of a trainer working with the Afghan Border Police. During enemy fire he helped to get the troops out of a kill zone and retrieve four of the deceased American soldiers. His award was delayed due to an issue in paperwork; however, eventually Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2012 for his act of bravery.
During October 2013, when the Army was preparing for his Medal of Honor ceremony, Swenson asked to return to active duty. Since his return to active duty, he is only one of three Medal of Honor recipients from the Afghan war to still be on active duty. All three-service members are located at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. They’re resiliency is in memory of the three marines and a sailor who was killed in the 2009 battle, including Gunnery Sergeant Edwin Johnson, Staff Sergeant Aaron Kenefick, 1st Lieutenant Michael Johnson, and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Laton. Their work honors the legacy of these men as well as their effort during the ambush back in 2009.
Although news reporters contacted Swenson repeatedly after his decision to return to active duty he did not offer up extensive comments. In an interview with the Army Times, Swenson said, “Today, I stand with the Medal of Honor,” he said during his award ceremony: “But this award was earned with a team. A team of our finest: Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy and our Afghan partners, standing side by side. And now, that team includes Gold Star families who lost their fathers, sons and husbands that day. This medal represents them. It represents us.”