October 1, 2011  

Neglected hero

To the Army for failing so far to decorate Capt. Will Swenson, another hero of the Afghanistan battle for which Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor.

After then-Corporal Meyer charged into enemy fire, Swenson joined him to retrieve the bodies of four fallen comrades. Pinned down on a hillside with several wounded U.S. and Afghan troops, the soldier helped fight off advancing insurgents, killing at least two with a grenade at close range and then working to evacuate more casualties under fire.

The Marine, whose service is notoriously stingy with decorations, received his Medal of Honor from President Obama on Sept. 15 as Swenson looked on from the audience. Though at least eight others from that battle at Ganjgal have received valor awards for bravery, Swenson remains officially unrecognized for his actions.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive today,” Meyer said of Swenson.

The Army will say only that Swenson is “up for” some kind of valor award, but offers nothing about what level or when the award might be finalized. There is no good excuse for taking so long to honor Swenson for his extraordinary heroism.