In the heat of the raging seven-hour Battle of Ganjgal in Afghanistan, five Americans and 10 Afghan soldiers died along with an interpreter on September 8, 2009. Two dozen coalition troops were injured. Captain William “Will” Swenson (34) is credited with saving the lives of 12, and for the first time, a battle-field rescue of a fellow soldier was partially caught on video from a helmet-cam inside a Medivac helicopter. Captain Swenson, now a Medal of Honor recipient, needs a job. He lives in Seattle. Can you help him? He has been employed since “forced early retirement” in 2011. Be a hero, by finding this hero a meaningful and worthy job. Here’s the rest of the story including the helmet-cam video and one of the men who shot it speaking about Swenson: Update: 11-7-13: I know of no time that William Swenson has publicly asked anyone for a job. My comments about being a hero by finding a job for a hero are mine and only mine.
Swenson called for air and artillery support which reportedly was not provided. In after-combat investigations, Swenson was vocal about those refusing support in the field due to possible “civilian collateral damage.” As a result, two officers were reprimanded.
Then the 2009 paperwork for Swenson’s Medal of Honor recommendation went missing. In 2011, the documents were found – lost inside a computer. Once ‘found,’ it took two more years for the Army Chain of Command to get its act together. There are suspicions among some that the loss of paperwork was payback for Swenson’s criticisms, resulting in two officers receiving reprimands. General Ray Odierno praised Swenson for speaking out about “deficiencies that led to the deaths” of those you will be listed below. And the Army now has a new procedure to handle MoH nominations. Sigh.
Swenson distinguished himself while accompanying U.S. Marines and a larger contingent of Afghan National Army troops for a scheduled meeting with elders in the village of Ganjal on Sept. 9, 2009.
As the troops neared the village, Taliban fighters ambushed the column from three sides, killing or wounding dozens and pinning down those who could still fight.
With a superior officer hit, Swenson took control and fought his way through the bullets to aid Westbrook, responding to a Taliban fighter’s demand for surrender with a tossed hand grenade.
On his final trip back into the fire, Swenson was accompanied by then-Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, who received the Medal of Honor in 2011 for his own actions that day to rescue wounded and recover the dead.
Swenson’s honor represents only the second time since Vietnam and the second in just two months that a pair of surviving veterans have received the award for actions in the same battle…
The Marine Corps Times and McClatchy newspapers reported than [sic] in interviews conducted by superiors, Swenson blasted peers on duty at a tactical operations center during the battle who denied his requests for artillery fire due to the possible proximity of civilians in the village.
When I’m being second-guessed by higher or somebody that’s sitting in an air-conditioned [command center], why [the] hell am I even out there in the first place? Swenson told investigators, according to documents obtained by Marine Corps Times. Source: NY Daily News
In the video, you will see Captain Swenson risking his life to try to save the life of Sgt. 1st Class Ken Westwood who was shot in the throat. As Westwood was lifted into the Medivac, Swenson leans forward and kisses him on the forehead and you see him head back into the fight. Westwood, married with three children, died a month later from complications of a blood transfusion.
Killed in the ambush were Marine gunnery sergeants Edwin Johnson and Aaron Kenefick, First Lt. Michael Johnson, and Navy Corpsman James Layton. Westbrook died of his wounds nearly a month later. (see the NY Daily News link above)
Twelve honorees have received the Medal of Honor from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, six living and six posthumously. Captain Swenson was inducted into the Pentagon Hall of Heroes the day after receiving the MoH on October 15, 2013. Captain Swenson is the most decorated Army officer since the Vietnam War receiving a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Note in the video below, Captain Swenson is not wearing a helmet. In other videos you see him with what appears to be a red blanket (but is actually orange) or piece of material used to flag down the Medivac – making Swenson all the more vulnerable.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Swenson referred to leaving the Army in 2011 was a “force early retirement.”
“Are you familiar with Pyrrhic victories?” Swenson said in a recent interview. “That’s what I specialize in.” ~ William Swenson, Medal of Honor Recipient
A victory that is offset by staggering losses., a victory in which the victor’s losses are as great as those of the defeated, a victory or goal achieved at too great a cost, a victory that is won by incurring terrible losses
Captain Swenson has been unemployed in Seattle since returning to civilian status. Surely there is someone out there who can give this man a job he deserves. In the meantime, he has applied to return to active duty. His request is “under review.” The video below is not the video making the rounds. One of the men on the Medivac that day explains what happened.
U.S. Army Captain William Swenson, Medal of Honor Recipient (video)
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