The nation's highest military honor - a sky blue ribbon and medal - was clasped around Swenson's neck by President Barack Obama at the White House. The president described how Swenson repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to recover fallen comrades and help save others during a battle against Taliban insurgents in the Ganjgal valley near the Pakistan border on Sept. 8, 2009. The fight claimed five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops and an interpreter.
Swenson is the second Medal of Honor recipient from that fight, just the second time in half a century that the medal has been awarded to two survivors of the same battle, Obama said. Two years ago, Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer for heroic actions in the 2009 fight.
Obama noted that although America's highest military honor has been bestowed nearly 3,500 times, never before had the public been able to see any of the bravery it was designed to recognize. Video taken by the medevac crew's helmet cameras shows Swenson delivering a severely wounded soldier to the helicopter and kissing him on the head before returning to the heat of battle.
"A simple act of compassion and loyalty to a brother in arms," Obama said at the East Room ceremony attended by Swenson's parents, Julia and Carl, along with Vice President Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and others.
Take ABC13 with you!
Download our free apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices