CPT Jon E. Swanson died in S. E. Asia in the country of Cambodia on February 26th, 1971 while flying an OH-6A helicopter. His remains, along with the remains of his gunner/observer, SSG Larry Harrison, were finally recovered in late 2001. Their remains came home and were buried together in the same grave at Arlington National Cemetery on May 3, 2002. Thus ended a 31 year wait for the families of each of these brave warriors.

Congressional Medal of Honor

(Words of President George W. Bush on May 1, 2002 during a private ceremony in the White House Rose Garden awarding CPT Jon E. Swanson the Congressional Medal of Honor.)

"The Medal of Honor recognizes acts of bravery that no superior could rightly order a soldier to perform. The courage it signifies -- gallant, intrepid service at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty -- is written forever in the service record of Army Captain Jon Swanson."

"A helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War, Captain Swanson flew his last mission on his second tour of duty, on February 26th, 1971, over Cambodia. As Allied forces on the ground came under heavy enemy fire, Captain Swanson was called in to provide close air support. Flying at tree-top level, he found and engaged the enemy, exposing himself to intense fire from the ground. He ran out of heavy ordinance, yet continued to drop smoke grenades to mark other targets for nearby gunships."

"Captain Swanson made it back to safety, his ammunition nearly gone, and his Scout helicopter heavily damaged. Had he stayed on the ground, no one would have faulted him. But he had seen more -- he had seen that more targets needed marking, to eliminate the danger to the troops on the ground. He volunteered to do the job himself, flying directly into enemy fire, until his helicopter exploded in flight."

"Captain Swanson's actions, said one fellow officer, "were the highest degree of personal bravery and self-sacrifice I have ever witnessed". Others agreed, and the Medal of Honor was recommended by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and by the late Admiral John McCain. However, only the Distinguished Service Cross was awarded, until a recent review of the case made clear that the nation's highest military honor was in order."


May 1, 2002

Sandee Swanson receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from President George Bush flanked by her daughters Brigid (L) and Holly (R)

The day following the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor to the family by President Bush, a ceremony was held in the Pentagon at the "Hall of Heroes". The "Hall of Heroes" is a special place which describes and lists all recipients of the Medal of Honor since its inception by Congress in 1862.


May 2, 2002

L to R: Sec. of Army Tom White, Sandee Swanson, widow,
Chief of Staff of the Army GEN Eric Shinseki and SGMajor of the Army Jack Tilley.


A wake was held at the Murphy Funeral Home in Arlington, VA, just outside Ft.. Meyers the evening of Thursday, May 2, 2002. Attending were numerous family and friends of both Jon Swanson and Larry Harrison. A number of men who had served with Jon Swanson in flight school in ORWAC 66-10, and while he served in Vietnam with the 3/5 Cavalry and B/1/9th Cavalry were also in attendance.

Casket for CPT Jon E. Swanson and SSG Larry Harrison.


May 3, 2002


Ft. Meyer Chapel


Heroes respect


Preparing to March


Ready to begin


Spring morning March

Family and Friends

Final Arrival


Final Resting Place



Preparing the Flag before the Salute Volleys (background)


Folding for presentation


A Loving Touch


And so, on May 3, 2002 in Arlington National Cemetery, CPT Jon E. Swanson and SSG Larry Harrison were laid to rest at home in the United States of America, at last.....after 31 years!


May God Rest their Soul's


(This Memorial and Tribute photographed and developed entirely by Thomas H. Payne
a flight school classmate with Jon E. Swanson in honor of him and Larry Harrison.)

© Copyright June 1, 2002--2012 
 Thomas H. Payne, Web master