Like other U.S. trainers with the Afghan force that day, Army Capt. William Swenson had expected light resistance. Instead, the contingent walked into a furious six-hour gunfight with Taliban ambushers in which Swenson repeatedly charged through intense fire to retrieve wounded and dead.
The 2009 battle of Ganjgal is perhaps the most remarkable of the Afghan war for its extraordinary heroism and deadly incompetence. It produced dozens of casualties, career-killing reprimands and a slew of commendations for valor. They included two Medal of Honor nominations, one for Swenson.
Yet months after the first living Army officer in some 40 years was put in for the nation’s highest military award for gallantry, his nomination vanished into a bureaucratic black hole. The U.S. military in Afghanistan said an investigation had found that it was “lost” in the approval process, something that several experts dismissed as improbable, saying that hasn’t happened since the award system was computerized in the mid-1970s.
I take everything from McClatchy with more than a grain of salt. They love to find (or imply) controversy in the DoD where none exists.
Having said that, the battle that resulted in SGT Meyers Medal of Honor and CPT Swenson’s nomination was a real mess. And the fact that it was the MARINES who resubmitted the packet for CPT Swenson raised a few eyebrows.
I have no idea whether CPT Swenson’s actions merit the Medal of Honor, or some other decoration (and the list of decorations for that action is astonishing), and contrary to McClatchy’s smear that SGT Meyer may have been undeserving, I’m fully confident that he is worth of the award.
To a certain extent, the criteria for any award are subjective. There is simply no way around that. But certainly any award process should strive to be as fair and objective as possible.