This afternoon, the United States will award its highest honor for valor to Army Capt. William Swenson, (Ret.) 34, for his heroic acts during an hours-long battle in Ganjgal, Afghanistan; a battle that produced not one, but two Medal of Honor recipients.
On Sept, 8, 2009, a deadly fight in Kunar Province, Afghanistan left five American troops and eight Afghan Soldiers dead. Untold numbers were wounded including Kenneth Westbrook, a 22-year seasoned Soldier whom Swenson kissed on the helmet just prior to the Medevac helicopter’s lift-off. It was a kiss caught on “helmet cam” by another Soldier and has since gone viral.
Kenneth Westbrook died nearly a month later from complications of his wounds.
Swenson returned to battle that day where he is credited with saving the lives of four of his Soldiers under heavy fire from enemy forces.
From the Department of Defense:
"In seven hours of continuous fighting, Swenson braved intense enemy fire, and willfully put his life in danger against the enemy's main effort, multiple times in service of his fallen and wounded comrades, his unit, his country, and his endangered Afghan partners. Displaying conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his own life and well beyond the call of duty, Swenson would be a most deserving recipient of the Medal of Honor."
Marine Dakota Meyer also received the Medal of Honor for his acts of bravery in this same battle.
After controversy over the actions and responses of senior Soldiers that day, the military launched an investigation.
Read more about the different accounts of the battle by Dakota Meyer and William Swenson .
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