November 8th, 2013
06:52 PM ET

Pentagon investigation: Petraeus did not want top honor for soldier

By Larry Shaughnessy

A nagging mystery of the Afghanistan war was why one Marine and one soldier were awarded Medals of Honor for their role in the same battle, but the honor was conferred nearly two years apart.

Turns out part of the reason is that Gen. David Petraeus, who once served as the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, didn't think the soldier, Army Capt. William Swenson, deserved the nation's highest award for valor.

Swenson three times exposed himself to overwhelming enemy fire to try to rescue wounded U.S. and Afghan troops during the Battle of Ganjgal in eastern Afghanistan in 2009.

Two years later, Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer was decorated with a Medal of Honor for similar actions in the same battle. Swenson was also recommended for the medal but his case became lost in the military bureaucracy.

Prompted by Rep. Duncan Hunter's inquiries, the Pentagon inspector general began looking into the matter.

This week, the IG wrote to Hunter investigators found that "former Commander, USFOR-A, recommended downgrading the MOH to a Distinguished Service Cross, which was in his discretion to do."

The IG letter did not say why Petraeus, who is not named but who was the Afghanistan commander during the time in question, believed Swenson shouldn't receive the medal.

Complicating the case was much of the paperwork connected to Swenson's valor recommendation was missing for a long period of time. The IG didn't blame Petraeus for that.

But Hunter wants more answers.

"It is extraordinarily disconcerting that the facts surrounding Swenson's Medal of Honor nomination, specific to how it was handled and subsequently lost, still cannot be resolved," he wrote the Defense Department.

The nomination statement, once found, was nothing short of glowing for Swenson, saying the soldier "braved intense enemy fire, and willfully put his life in danger against the enemy's main effort, multiple times in service of his fallen and wounded comrades, his unit, his country, and his endangered Afghan partners."

Swenson finally was invited to the White House in October where President Barack Obama draped the iconic blue ribbon with the gold star shaped medal around his neck.

Swenson asked the Army to allow him to return to active duty.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Jacques Whisenand

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    May 11, 2021 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  2. Brett Azoulay

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl authors and blogs

    May 10, 2021 at 8:01 am | Reply
  3. home

    The following are more interesting facts about the Florida Alligator:. Being a carbon star, Lepus can be observed in variations of the color red.

    January 22, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  4. sharon

    Petraeus is a piece of shlt.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • Brian


      November 19, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  5. Rob

    Petraeus didn't wants Swenson to get it because Swenson dared to be critical of the ridiculous decisions made when they were calling for fire support. Fire supposrt was refused because of Petraeus' policy and men died for it.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  6. Bob Head

    What goes around comes around. Petraeus got his in the end. LOL

    November 9, 2013 at 9:55 am | Reply
  7. uncdig

    Another debacle illustrating the Obama Administration's competence

    November 9, 2013 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • StafCoyote

      And what does this have to do with the President? Please leave the Republican political maoism on another thread.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  8. John

    What the hell does Petraeus know about honor. The man disgraced the uniform and the officer corps by thinking with the head between his legs and not the one on his shoulders.

    November 9, 2013 at 7:03 am | Reply
  9. Andrew B

    Soldier is capitalized in this instance, just like you have Marine. Same for Airmen and Sailors for near a decade.

    November 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.