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Name: CPT Jon Edward Swanson
Status: Remains Returned from an incident on 02/26/1971 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Age at death: 28.8
Date of Birth: 05/01/1942
Home City: Denver, CO
Service: IN branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: B/1/9 CAV 1 CAV
Prior Unit: D/3/5 CAV 67-68
Major organization: 1st Cavalry Division
Flight class: 66-10
Service: IN branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 04W-007
Short Summary: Shot down in Cambodia. On fire while still in the air. Many attemps were made to recover the bodies, but enemy action prevented.
Aircraft: OH-6A tail number 69-16067
Country: Cambodia
MOS: 1981 = 19 Rotary Wing Aviator (Unit Commander)
Primary cause: Cambodia-BNR
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: pilot
Vehicle ownership: government
Started Tour: 10/27/1970
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - pilot
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Length of service: *
Military grid coordinates of event: WU915264

Additional information about this casualty:
Subject: B/1-9 Cav DSC posthumous awardee upgraded to MOH CPT Jon Swanson Captain Jon E. Swanson was killed in action during his second tour in Vietnam. His first tour of duty was in 1967, with D Troop, 3rd Sqd, 5th Cavalry. During that tour he received his first Purple Heart for wounds received while flying support for ground troops. In early 1971, Captain Swanson, now with the 9th Cavalry, and SSG Larry Gene Harrison, observer, were conducting a visual reconnaissance mission while providing close air support to an ARVN force operating in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia. They were flying anOH-6A (hull number 69-16067). While flying at a low altitude marking enemy positions, it came under fire from two machine guns and was seen to burst into flames and crash. Another helicopter landed near the site, but was forced to take off when it came under heavy enemy fire. Repeated attempts by bothN ground troops and U.S. helicopters to reach the downed helicopter were thwarted by enemy fire. On 27 February US helicopters returned to the area and saw what they believed to be the remains of Captain Swanson and SSG Harrison near the crash site. As late as 07 March the remains were observed near the crash site, but could not be recovered due to enemy fire. Captain Swanson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in support of ARVN Task Force 33. Thirty years later, Congress approved legislation which allowed the President to upgrade the DSC to the Medal of Honor, should the President see fit to do so. President George W. Bush signed the legislation and approved the award of the Medal of Honor on 28 December 2001. The documents which supported the upgrade give greater detail of the action on that day: On 26 February 1971, Captain Jon E Swanson was flying an OH-6A aircraft on a close-support reconnaissance mission in support of Army of the Republic of Vietnam Task Force 333 conducting operations within Cambodia. Two well-equipped enemy regiments were known to be in the area, and Captain Swanson's mission was to pinpoint precise enemy positions. To accomplish this mission he was required to fly at tree-top level at a slow airspeed, thus making his aircraft a very vulnerable target. The advancing ARVN unit came under heavy automatic weapons fire from enemy bunkers in a treeline approximately 100 meters to their front. Captain Swanson, completely exposing himself to enemy anti-aircraft fire, immediately engaged the enemy bunkers with concussion grenades and machinegun fire. After destroying five bunkers and successfully evading ground-to-air fire, he discovered a .51 caliber machine gun position. He had expended his heavy ordnance on the bunkers and did not have sufficient explosives to destroy the position. Consequently, he marked the position with a smoke grenade and directed a Cobra gunship attack on the position. Upon completion of the attack, he again returned to the area to assess the battle damage. Captain Swanson found the weapon still intact and an enemy soldier crawling over to man it. He immediately engaged the individual and killed him. His aircraft was then taken under fire by a second .51 caliber machine gun position. Although his aircraft had taken several hits, Captain Swanson engaged the position with his aircraft weapons, marked the target, and directed a second Cobra gunship attack. He volunteered to continue the mission despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition and his aircraft was crippled from the hits it sustained. While approaching the target area, Captain Swanson was taken under fire by yet another .51 caliber machine gun position. In an effort to mark the position with smoke, he again flew into the objective area. Although his aircraft was taking heavy fire, he continued to fly to the .51 caliber position. It was at this point that his aircraft exploded in the air and crashed to the ground. Captain Swanson's courageous actions resulted in at least eight enemy dead and the destruction of three enemy anti-aircraft positions, which would have been responsible for the destruction of many more helicopters and crews. The acts of then-Captain Jon E. Swanson clearly distinguish him conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty . . . On December 28, 2001 Pres George Bush signed the Defense Authorization Act,S1438, which included:HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESSEC. 551. AUTHORITY FOR AWARD OF THE MEDAL OF HONOR TO HUMBERT R. VERSACE,JON E. SWANSON, AND BEN L. SALOMON FOR VALOR. from Sloniker, Mike E., mike.e.sloniker@lmco.com

Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
married male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Roman Catholic
The following information secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: officer
This record was last updated on 12/09/2010

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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