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Seattle Native Honored with Presidential Medal of Honor

Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Army Capt. William D. Swenson of Seattle, Wash., during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.

President Barack Obama says a former Army captain and Seattle native who survived one of the Afghan war's deadliest firefights is a reminder that Americans look out for one another, even when it's difficult.

Obama commented at a White House ceremony Tuesday before placing America's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, around former Army Capt. William D. Swenson's neck. Before the ceremony, the president spoke with Swenson’s parents, Carl and Julie.

“Both Carl and Julie are former college professors. So instead of a household full of G.I. Joes, Will grew up in Seattle surrounded by educational games,” said the president.

“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,’ so I am going to be very careful today. I just had a chance to spend some time with them and I have to say, Will is a pretty low-key guy. His idea of a good time isn’t a ceremony like this one; he’d rather be somewhere up in the mountains or on a trail surrounded by Cedar trees instead of cameras."

Obama went on to say that Swenson is an example of what Americans can be at their best. The Seattle native was recognized for bravery in battle against Taliban insurgents near the Pakistan border in 2009.The fight claimed five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops and an interpreter. Swenson was a trainer and mentor embedded with the Afghan National. Security Forces in Afghanistan's Kunar Province. He risked his life to recover bodies and help save fellow troops.