Afghan war veteran presented highest military award
WASHINGTON (PAN): US President Barack Obama on Tuesday felicitated an Afghan war veteran with the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honour, for his actions in a lengthy battle against the Taliban in the Ganjal Valley four years ago.
Obama presented the prestigious award to Captain William Swenson, at an impressive ceremony held in the East Room of the White House, making the 34 years old the sixth living recipient.
It is only the second time in half a century that two men from the same battle have been awarded with this medal -- the highest military honor in the United States.
“Today is only the second time in nearly half a century that the Medal of Honor has been awarded to two survivors of the same battle,” Obama said during the awards ceremony.
Swenson, Obama said has been awarded the medal for his actions on September 8, 2009, in the Battle of the Ganjgal Valley in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province.
The battle claimed the lives of four American soldiers, 10 Afghan soldiers and an Afghan interpreter. He retired from the US Army in 2011.
The event was recorded in a video fitted in a soldier’s helmet. “In that video, as the helicopter touches down by a remote village, you see, out of a cloud of dust, an American soldier. He’s without his helmet, standing in the open, exposing himself to enemy fire, standing watch over a severely wounded soldier,” Obama said.
“He helps carry that wounded soldier to the helicopter and places him inside. And then, amidst the whipping wind and the deafening roar of the helicopter blades, he does something unexpected. He leans in and kisses the wounded soldier on the head -- a simple act of compassion and loyalty to a brother in arms. And as the door closes and the helicopter takes off, he turns and goes back the way he came, back into the battle,” Obama said.
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