Monday, February 07, 2011

Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron M. Swanson

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron M. Swanson, 21, of Jamestown, N.Y.

LCpl Swanson was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, Buffalo, N.Y.; died Feb. 7, 2011 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

2007 Southwestern Graduate Dies ‘A Few Weeks’ Before End Of Tour ---

A local Marine was killed Monday while in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Department of Defense notified Gene and Julie Swanson of Lakewood that their son, 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Aaron M. Swanson, was killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

The parents said his tour of duty was scheduled to end in a few weeks.

Ms. Swanson said her son went into active service Aug. 12, and his obligation was a seven-month tour as part of the Marine Corps Reserves.

The Marine Forces Reserve Public Affairs Office stated that Swanson joined the Marine Corps on May 18, 2009. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, based in Buffalo.

On Dec. 1 he was promoted to his latest rank while serving as a rifleman on active duty.

Swanson's personal awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the NATO Medal - International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan.

Ms. Swanson said Aaron was an "all-around, fun-loving kid," who grew to have a deep appreciation for the country and a devotion to serve. She cited his active participation in the Allegheny Highlands Council Troop 131 of the Boy Scouts, adding that he returned as a young adult to speak to the newer scouts, which included his brother.

She added they last spoke with Aaron when he checked in Jan. 14 on his brother's birthday, though he could occasionally keep in touch when he had access to Facebook.

Julie Swanson, Aaron's mother, released this statement:

"Aaron was traveling in the first of four vehicles in Afghanistan when a improvised explosive device detonated. He suffered back, leg and internal injuries that he succumbed to at 4:45 pm Monday.

He loved his Country, believed in what he was doing in serving his Country."

Lance Cpl. Aaron M. Swanson will be returned to Dover, Delaware at Noon Wednesday.

Swanson has four brother and two sisters. Funeral arraignments will be announced shortly.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Thursday, in honor of Swanson, a 2007 graduate of Southwestern Central School.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers I extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends, and fellow Marines of Lance Corporal Swanson," Cuomo said. "This young Marine gave his life for our nation and we will honor and remember his service."

Cuomo has directed that the flags on all state buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of, and in tribute to, our state's service members who are killed in action or die in a combat zone.

Southwestern principal Mike Cipolla said the school will have a moment of silence for Swanson this morning.

Lakewood Marine dies in Afghan combat:
Lance Cpl. Aaron M. Swanson was a student at Jamestown Community College, but like so many others his age, he was still trying to figure out what he wanted from life.

So in the spring of 2009, the Lakewood resident joined the Marine Forces Reserve, hoping it would give him some direction.

"He wanted the structure and discipline of the Marines," his stepmother, Julie, said Tuesday. "He really joined the reserves to help guide him in what he wanted to do."

Swanson, a rifleman assigned to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, based in Buffalo, died Monday from injuries suffered from a roadside bomb during combat operations in Afghanistan.

He was 21.

"He was in Garmsir in the Helmand province in Afghanistan," his stepmother said. "He was in a multipurpose all-terrain vehicle. He was in the first vehicle of a four-vehicle convoy. They were hit. They were struck by an IED."

Swanson was airlifted to Camp Dwyer, a Marine Corps military base in Afghanistan, where he died.

Swanson was raised in Lakewood, a small village of 3,200 people on the south end of Chautauqua Lake. He grew up around his dad's service station, Swanson Keystone, where he learned how to fix cars.

"When Aaron was home, he would go and talk to the Scouts about the Marines and things like that," his stepmother said.

In 2007, Swanson graduated from Southwestern High School, where he ran track and played football during his senior year.

It's hard to pick up the game in one year, while trying to fit in with teammates who played together for much longer, but Swanson managed to do it, said Jay Sirianni, Southwestern's football coach.

"He saw it as a challenge and really hit that challenge head on," Sirianni said. "I remember telling him that last practice at Southwestern how proud of him I was that he did that."

Swanson wasn't the star receiver or defensive back, but he embraced his role and made his teammates around him better, Sirianni said.

"Friday night was not always his night to shine, but during that week of practice he practiced with everything he had," Sirianni said.

"I can't speak for anyone in his unit, but I would assume it was the same way," the coach said. "He was there to make the people around him better and be a true teammate. I really believe that is Aaron."

Swanson's family had not spoken to him since Jan. 14, when he called home to wish his little brother a happy birthday.

Aaron Swanson couldn't divulge to his parents much about his mission or exactly where he was in Afghanistan, so the conversation was limited.

Are you OK? they asked. Are you eating? they wanted to know. Stay safe, they told him.

"He was supposed to be coming home in March," his stepmother said.

In addition to his stepmother, Lance Cpl. Swanson is survived by his father, Gene; his mother, Michelle Ford; two brothers, Luke and Benjamin; and two sisters, Torianna and Kiersten.

Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron M. Swanson was killed in action on 2/7/11.

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