William D. Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor Tuesday for his "extraordinary heroism" in a lengthy battle against the Taliban in the Ganjgal valley near the Pakistan border on Sept. 8, 2009, which claimed the lives of five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops and an interpreter.
In a rare move by a recipient of that award, Swenson is also said to be asking to return to active duty in the Army. Two U.S. officials told The Associated Press that Swenson has submitted a formal request and officials are working with him to allow his return. It is rare for an officer holding the Medal of Honor to do so -- though one soldier did return to active duty for the Vietnam War after receiving the award for his actions during the Korean War.
At the time of the 2009 battle, Swenson was an embedded trainer and mentor with the Afghan National Security Forces in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan. He risked his life to recover bodies and help save fellow troops.
Some of Swenson's actions were captured in a helmet-cam video. President Obama, in announcing the award at the White House, noted this may be the first time a recipient's actions were captured on film. It was also the second time in nearly a half-century that two survivors of the same battle were given the Medal of Honor. Another man who fought in the battle, Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011.
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