Medal of Honor Recipient Rejoins Military

Richard Moxley /

U.S. Army captain and Medal of Honor recipient Will Swenson returned to active duty recently.

Captain Swenson will be joining I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Fort Lewis, Washington, as a plans officer after his request to return to the service was approved.

Swenson received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the 2009 Battle of Ganjgal, where more than 60 Taliban insurgents attacked his patrol, killing 15 (five American service members, nine Afghan troops, and one Afghan interpreter) and leaving over a dozen wounded.

Swenson joins two other Medal of Honor recipients: Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry and Staff Sergeant Ty Carter. Coincidentally, all are now stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

As the U.S. military’s highest distinction, the Medal of Honor is given to those service members who display boldness and determination in facing great danger above and beyond the call of duty.

There are three environments in which a service member may be considered for the Medal of Honor. He or she must be:

  1. Engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
  2. Engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  3. Serving with friendly forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

There are three versions of the medal: one for the Air Force, one for the Navy, and one for the Army. Members of the Coast Guard and Marines are eligible to receive the Navy version.

The Medal of Honor has a long, proud history. Congress first gave the President the authority to award the Medal of Honor on March 3, 1863. Dating back to the Civil War, the Medal of Honor has been awarded 3,487 times. The Afghanistan/Iraq period of conflict has seen 12 Medal of Honor recipients—four in Afghanistan and eight in Iraq. Other times of conflict to note would be World War I (281), World War II (1,194), the Korean War (361), and the Vietnam War (646). A total of 77 recipients of the Medal of Honor are still living.

Following his award ceremony, Captain Swenson provided reporters with a brief statement about the medal:

Today, I stand with the Medal of Honor, but this award was earned with a team. A team of our finest: Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy and our Afghan partners, standing side by side. And now, that team includes Gold Star families who lost their fathers, sons and husbands that day. This medal represents them. It represents us.

America thanks the 3,487 Medal of Honor recipients for their steadfast devotion to their country. The service and continued sacrifices of the U.S. military are why America continues to be a light for freedom around the world.