Army Staff Sgt. Chris Swanson is coming home from Iraq this week.
He’ll arrive at Dover Air Force Base, where fellow servicemen, in a solemn, deliberate and oft-repeated ceremony, will remove his flag-draped coffin from the belly of a cargo plane.
Sgt. Swanson, a 1999 graduate of Southern High School from Rose Haven, was killed Saturday in an ambush in Anbar. He was 25 years old.
Following visitation sessions Monday and a funeral at his home church in Upper Marlboro on Tuesday morning, he’ll be buried under the watchful eye of the Army’s Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
“This is tough, man, tough,” Gary Swanson, his father, said yesterday sitting next to the sergeant’s mother, Kelly, in their Rose Haven home. “But he was doing what he wanted to do. He loved his country … He could have done anything he wanted, and he chose a noble career.”
Sgt. Swanson was leading his squad from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, of the 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division on a foot patrol in when he was killed. He’s believed to be the fourth county soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the 51st from Maryland.
Unconfirmed reports said it was an ambush or a sniper. Initial official reports are more vague.
Sgt. Swanson entered the Army right after graduating from Southern. After basic training he became a paratrooper, serving in the famed 82nd Airborne…
Service was in Sgt. Swanson’s blood. Most of his relatives have spent entire careers in public service, police work, the military and the FBI.
As a youth he spent summers in mission work with the First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro, where his uncle is youth minister.
“He had role models. The whole family was in public service. They just instilled those traits in him,” Mr. Swanson said.
“He had a serving attitude and a serving heart. When we were on mission trips to Cleveland, Florida, West Virginia … he would always volunteer for the dirtiest jobs.”
“You might hate war, but you have to love the warrior,” Gary Swanson said. “We have to support those who are still over there doing the job.”(Source: The Capital)
I remember being at VBS just a few weeks before Chris went off to boot camp, signing his T-Shirt, seeing him so excited. All of us young kids knew who he was – a soldier. Nothing was “cooler” in our minds. He was friends with everyone he came in contact with, whether you were in 1st grade or an adult.
As friends of this young man and his family, this death has hit home for me and many others at my church. Chris was out on the field, doing the job that many of us can’t do. He died for us — in reality, he took the bullet that that terrorist had meant for us. Although he died so young, his life was one that was not wasted in the least, but used to it’s fullest.
“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”