WASHINGTON — The former Army captain who received the Medal of Honor on Tuesday has asked to return to active duty in the Army, a rare move by an officer who has lived to wear the military’s highest award.
Two U.S. officials tell the Associated Press that William D. Swenson has submitted a formal request to the Army and officials are working with him to allow his return.
Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in the White House Tuesday afternoon for risking his life to recover bodies and save fellow troops during a lengthy battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border in 2009.
The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the request until a decision was made.
Swenson, 34, left the military in February 2011 as a captain, but he could rise to the rank of major once he rejoins. In order to successfully re-enlist, Swenson will have to pass a physical, a drug test and other routine reviews. But officials Tuesday were optimistic it would all fall into place.
In the aftermath of 9/11, when the Army was growing in size to meet the combat requirements of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it was not unusual for former soldiers to rejoin the service and go back on active duty. It is rare, if not unprecedented, for an officer holding the Medal of Honor, to do so. Officials were unsure if that had ever happened before.
Swenson also has a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal and lives in Seattle.