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Former Army Capt. Will Swenson to receive Medal of Honor for heroics in Afghanistan

by on September 17, 2013

Swenson, who left active duty in February 2011, will be the sixth living service member to receive the nation’s top valor award for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He will receive the award Oct. 15 in a ceremony at the White House alongside his family, White House officials said.

The grueling six-hour battle is one of the most infamous of the war in Afghanistan. At least 50 well-entrenched insurgents in the mountainside village of Ganjgal ambushed a group of about 60 Afghan soldiers, 20 Afghan border police and 13 military trainers shortly after dawn as the group was on its way to meet village elders. The enemy fighters appeared to know they were coming, and launched a fierce barrage of small-arms and rocket fire.

Killed in the battle were Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson, 31; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30; 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25; and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton, 22. All were members of Meyer’s unit, Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, out of Okinawa, Japan. A soldier working for Swenson, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, died the following month at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center due to medical complications after sustaining a gunshot wound to the neck and face in the battle.

The battle and its aftermath have both been filled with frustration. Swenson, Meyer and the family members of the fallen all have criticized commanders who were found to have abandoned the troops on the battlefield that day, and the military’s handling of the incident afterward.

From → Military

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