Today there was an addition to the illustrious roll of Medal of Honor awardees. It took way too long to put him on there.

Before I delve into the politics of CPT Swenson’s Medal of Honor, I want to honor his incredible acts.

CPT Swenson  was on an embedded training team advising Afghan Border Police on 8 Sep 2008, when his 65-man unit, which included Afghan Border Police and a Marine advisor team, were caught in an ambush by an estimated 150 insurgents near the village of Ganjgal.

CPT Swenson moved to the sound of the guns in his Ford Ranger pickup truck, linking up with the Marine command element whose commander was shot in the arm and whose 1SGT already had ruptured eardrums from an RPG. CPT Swenson took command and repeatedly requested artillery fire, which was denied because of the close proximity to the village where women and children were observed shuttling ammunition to the insurgents. Eventually white phosphorous was fired 400M from his position which wasn’t near enough to provide concealment to the engaged troops. Realizing the enemy had fire superiority and was on the verge of overrunning the forward element, a painful decision was made to withdraw, reorganize and then rescue three Marines and a Corpsman at the front of the column with whom contact had been lost.

As the unit was withdrawing, SFC Westbrook, CPT Swenson’s NCOIC, was separated and wounded in an open field. CPT Swenson, along with LT Fabayo and 1SGT Garza, zig-zagged through 50m of open space to get to Westbrook, who had suffered a chest wound. Meanwhile, the enemy had maneuvered through village buildings to within 50m of the Americans. An insurgent wearing a helmet, fatigues and body armor motioned to Fabayo to surrender, who communicated that to CPT Swenson. CPT Swenson put down his radio, stopped rendering first aid and threw a hand grenade rendering his answer.

Following CPT Swenson’s example, Afghan troops pushed the enemy away as Kiowa scout helicopters arrived. The break allowed CPT Swenson and those with him to evacuate Westbrook and other casualties to a nearby LZ, where a Medevac landed for the casualties. CPT Swenson was captured on video evacuating the casualties and kissing SFC Westbrook’s head before returning to the fight.


Swenson and Fabyo then reentered the kill zone twice to retrieve casualties in an unarmored Ford Ranger. Simultaneously, Marines, including future Medal of Honor awardee Dakota Meyer, were doing the same. Swenson continuously maintained contact with one of the Kiowas trying to locate the missing Marines and Corpsman.