A Defense Department report released to KUOW has found no wrongdoing by senior command officials responsible for the lost Medal of Honor nomination for Captain William Swenson.
Swenson, of Seattle, was awarded the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony in October, four years after he was nominated for the military’s highest honor.
Swenson was honored for risking his life several times to rescue fellow troops and recover bodies during one of the most intense battles of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The medal was delivered under a cloud of suspicion; Swenson’s supporters felt that someone in the chain of command intentionally delayed the award because he had criticized superiors.
In the redacted report, it was noted that General David Petraeus, who is now retired, recommended that Swenson’s award be downgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross.
Petraeus was in command of the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan at the time. The downgrade was within Petraeus’ discretion, according to the report. The report goes on to say Petraeus then returned the recommendation to his administrative assistant, who said it was handed off for processing.
But after that, according to the report, it’s unclear where the paperwork went.
The report says several witnesses testified that the department responsible for handling awards at U.S. Forces Afghanistan frequently lost them.
Deputy Inspector General Marguerite Garrison says there was no evidence that senior officials mishandled or unnecessarily delayed the recommendation. But Garrison did recommend that the awards process at U.S. Forces Afghanistan be reviewed after determining that the handling and tracking of the paper work had not been consistent with Army regulations.
Swenson has since returned to active duty and is serving at Joint Base Lewis -McChord.