To the Editor:
On Sept. 15, President Obama presented Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer with a Medal of Honor for his extraordinary heroism during a fierce battle two years ago in the remote village of Ganjgal in Afghanistan.
Former Army Captain Will Swenson was in the White house audience because he braved enemy fire with Meyer to save other U.S. and Afghan forces pinned down in the ambush. The Marine and the soldier pressed on in their desperate rescue mission even after Army officials at a nearby tactical operation center refused their requests for fire support.
Some speculate why his recommendation for the Medal of Honor, that the Army brass, angered by Swenson’s outspoken criticism of fellow soldiers who refused his repeated artillery fire or close air support, did not want to see the recommendation move forward. Swenson’s criticism may have been embarrassing to the Army, but it was not unfounded. Several Army officers were reprimanded.
Fortunately, Marine General John Allen, commander of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, has revived the request for a Medal of Honor for Swenson.
It is clearly an outrage and further Army failure that Swenson has not been honored in any way for his heroism in Ganjgal.
“If it weren’t for him, I would not be alive today,” Meyer said.
Lives could have been saved if it weren’t for the political policies and second-guessing for the rules of engagement. I saw the same thing in Vietnam. If we don’t learn from our failures, we are doomed to repeat them. The pettiness of some in the chain of command to stonewall this individual’s award is infantile. Where are the grown ups?