Jon Edward Swanson

01 May 1942 - 26 February 1971
Born: May 01, 1942
From: Denver, Colorado
Panel 04W Line 007

Standing between daughters Brigid Swanson Jones and
Holly Walker, Sandra Swanson accepts the thanks and
praise of President George W. Bush for her husband's
sacrifice during the Vietnam War.
     On 26 February 1971, Captain Jon E. Swanson was flying an OH-6A aircraft on a close-support reconnaissance mission in support of Army of the Republic of Vietnam Task Force 333 conducting operations within Cambodia. Two well-equipped enemy regiments were known to be in the area, and Captain Swanson's mission was to pinpoint precise enemy positions. To accomplish this mission he was required to fly at tree-top level at a slow airspeed, thus making his aircraft a very vulnerable target. The advancing ARVN unit came under heavy automatic weapons fire from enemy bunkers in a treeline approximately 100 meters to their front. Captain Swanson, completely exposing himself to enemy anti-aircraft fire, immediately engaged the enemy bunkers with concussion grenades and machinegun fire.

     After destroying five bunkers and successfully evading ground-to-air fire, he discovered a .51 caliber machine gun position. He had expended his heavy ordnance on the bunkers and did not have sufficient explosives to destroy the position. Consequently, he marked the position with a smoke grenade and directed a Cobra gunship attack on the position. Upon completion of the attack, he again returned to the area to assess the battle damage. Captain Swanson found the weapon still intact and an enemy soldier crawling over to man it. He immediately engaged the individual and killed him. His aircraft was then taken under fire by a second .51 caliber machine gun position. Although his aircraft had taken several hits, Captain Swanson engaged the position with his aircraft weapons, marked the target, and directed a second Cobra gunship attack. He volunteered to continue the mission despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition and his aircraft was crippled from the hits it sustained. While approaching the target area, Captain Swanson was taken under fire by yet another .51 caliber machine gun position. In an effort to mark the position with smoke, he again flew into the objective area. Although his aircraft was taking heavy fire, he continued to fly to the .51 caliber position. It was at this point that his aircraft exploded in the air and crashed to the ground. Captain Swanson's courageous actions resulted in at least eight enemy dead and the destruction of three enemy anti-aircraft positions, which would have been responsible for the destruction of many more helicopters and crews.

     The acts of then Captain Jon E. Swanson clearly distinguish him conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

On May 1, 2002, Jon's 60th birthday and the 33rd aniversary of his mother's death, Jon was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush .

On May 3, 2002, Captain Jon Edward Swanson and Staff Sergeant Larry Harrison were buried together with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

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