The Battle of Ganjgal in September of 2008 remains one of the deadliest in the Afghan war. Capt. William Swenson, U.S. Army, helped fend off an onslaught of insurgents, saved lives, coordinated a rescue, and braved gunfire to retrieve fallen soldiers and Marines. There were two Medals of Honor earned that day - S.L.
Capt. Swenson was presented the Medal today (Tuesday 15 October 2013) in a ceremony at the Whitehouse. Swenson’s path to the White House ceremony has been a rocky one. After he criticized his Army superiors for failing to provide enough air and artillery support, his medal nomination was delayed for years. Army officials said they lost his packet in the computer system for 19 months.
Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer - the other service member to receive the Medal for the Ganjgal battle - was not present at today's ceremony. Swenson has expressed skepticism about the accuracy of Meyer’s account of the battle.
Two other Marines, Ademola Fabayo and Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, who helped Swenson and Meyer in the rescue missions, attended Swenson’s ceremony. They both have received the Navy Cross for their actions.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Swenson said he accepted the Medal of Honor on behalf of the fellow soldiers and Marines with whom he fought, along with the family members of those who died.
“It does not really belong to me; it belongs to that event and the people I stood with,” he said of The Medal. “I’ll be thinking of everyone in that valley who gave more than could be expected of anybody.”
These are the exact words I have heard from other recipients of the Medal of Honor. It is remarkable how they all say the same thing.