WASHINGTON — Four years after risking his life in Afghanistan, William D. Swenson solemnly received the Medal of Honor on Tuesday in a case of battlefield bravery with some odd twists: The young Army captain questioned the judgment of his superiors, and the paperwork nominating him for the award was lost. He left the military two years ago but wants to return to active duty, a rare move for a medal recipient.
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.