By Lisa Ferdinando
Army News Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2013 – President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor to former Army Capt. William D. Swenson in a White House ceremony yesterday, citing Swenson’s heroism during a six-hour battle that followed a deadly Taliban ambush in Afghanistan four years ago.
Swenson is the first Army officer to receive the nation’s highest military honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Guests at the White House ceremony included other Medal of Honor recipients, soldiers and Marines who fought alongside Swenson, and the families of service members who died in the battle. Army Secretary John M. McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Army Undersecretary Joseph W. Westphal also attended.
Before draping the medal around Swenson’s neck, Obama recounted Swenson’s heroic actions in saving more than a dozen lives during the Sept. 8, 2009, Battle of Ganjgal in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
Swenson is the second service member to receive the Medal of Honor for that battle. Dakota Meyer, a Marine Corps corporal at the time, was honored two years ago.
The president said Swenson is a remarkable example to the nation of the professionalism and patriotism that everyone should strive for.
“Capt. Will Swenson was a leader on that September morning,” Obama said. “But like all great leaders, he was also a servant — to the men he commanded, to the more than a dozen Afghans and Americans whose lives he saved, to the families of those who gave their last full measure of devotion on that faraway field.”