Business Investor’s Daily on October 16, 2013, published the Presidetial remarks at Medal of Honor Ceremony for Capt. William Swenson. The text is published below:
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat. On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.
Last month, the United States Army released a remarkable piece of video. It’s from the combat helmet cameras of a Medevac helicopter crew in Afghanistan. And it’s shaky and it’s grainy, but it takes us to the frontlines that our troops face every single day, and it’s useful to remember that there is still a whole lot of our troops in Afghanistan in harm’s way. In that video, as the helicopter touches down by a remote village, you see, out of a cloud of dust, an American soldier. He’s without his helmet, standing in the open, exposing himself to enemy fire, standing watch over a severely wounded soldier.
He helps carry that wounded soldier to the helicopter and places him inside. And then, amidst the whipping wind and the deafening roar of the helicopter blades, he does something unexpected. He leans in and kisses the wounded soldier on the head — a simple act of compassion and loyalty to a brother in arms. And as the door closes and the helicopter takes off, he turns and goes back the way he came, back into the battle.
In our nation’s history, we have presented our highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, nearly 3,500 times for actions above and beyond the call of duty. But this may be the first time that we can actually bear witness to a small fraction of those actions for ourselves. And today we honor the American in that video — the soldier who went back in — Captain William Swenson.
Not far away that day was then-Corporal Dakota Meyer, to whom we presented the Medal of Honor two years ago. Today is only the second time in nearly half a century that the Medal of Honor has been awarded to two survivors of the same battle. Dakota is not here today, but I want to welcome some of the soldiers and Marines who fought alongside both these men — and the families of those who gave their lives that day.
I want to welcome all of our distinguished guests, including members of the Medal of Honor Society, whose ranks today grow by one more. Most of all, I want to welcome Will’s wonderful parents, Julia and Carl — and Will’s girlfriend, Kelsey. Had a chance to visit with them. Both Carl and Julia are former college professors, so instead of a house full of GI Joes, Will grew up in Seattle surrounded by educational games. (Laughter.) I’m told that even when Will was little, his mom was always a stickler for grammar — always making sure he said “to whom” instead of “to who.” (Laughter.) So I’m going to be very careful today. (Laughter.)