Captain to Receive MoH after Controversial Delay


Former Army Capt. William Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor next month for his "conspicuous gallantry" in Afghanistan, more than two years after former Marine Corp. Dakota Meyer received the MoH for his valor in the same battle, the White House announced Monday.

Swenson, who left the Army in February 2011, had bitterly criticized higher-ups in the chain of command, charging that they failed to provide fire support during the battle of Ganjgal in Kunar province on Sept. 8, 2009.

Under the headline "Afghan Ambush Heroics Go Unrecognized," the Army Times in 2011 wrote that Meyer and Swenson worked as a team under heavy fire during the battle. Meyer said it was "ridiculous" that the recommendation for an MoH for Swenson had been delayed, the Army Times wrote.

"I'll put it this way," Meyer told the paper. "If it wasn't for [Swenson], I wouldn't be alive today."

Meyer received the MoH at the White House on Sept. 15, 2011. Two other Marines, Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez and Capt. Ademola Fabayo, received the Navy Cross for their actions in the battle.

In a statement, the White House said that President Obama will present the MoH to Swenson at a White House ceremony on Oct. 15  "for his courageous actions while serving as an embedded trainer and mentor of the Afghan National Security Forces with Afghan Border Police Mentor Team, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division."

Swenson and Meyer were among a group of 13 U.S. military trainers, 60 Afghan soldiers and 20 Afghan border police were caught in a U-shaped ambush by about 100 entrenched Taliban in the Ganjgal Valley near the Pakistan border.

Swenson repeatedly called for artillery support fire from nearby Forward Operating Base Joyce, but his requests were denied by Army officers who were later reprimanded for "negligent leadership."

Four Marines died in the battle: 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va.; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga.; Hospital Corpsman Third Class James R. Layton, 22, of Riverbank, Calif.; and Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, Ga.  A fifth casualty, Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth W. Westbrook, 41, of Shiprock, N.M., later died from his wounds.

The White House said that Swenson will be the sixth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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