MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- When awarded for bravery, the Bronze Star is the fourth-highest combat decoration the U.S. armed forces has to offer. When a Marine is awarded the medal, sometimes bravery isn't the only contributing factor.
For Gunnery Sgt. Erik N. Swanson, an explosive ordnance technician team leader with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, heroism and leadership did not fall short.
Swanson, 30, from Cromwell, Conn., was awarded the Bronze Star with a combat distinguishing device here, Feb.1, for heroic achievement while on a deployment in Afghanistan.
"It makes you feel good to be recognized for what we are doing over there," said Swanson. "Right now things are very 'hands-on' and I'm glad it's not going unnoticed."
Swanson served as an EOD technician with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During his tour, Swanson successfully responded to more than 100 combat missions, including the disposal of an estimated 85 improvised explosive devices and cleared more than 1,000 pounds of munitions while working hand-in-hand with infantry units.
"He was in the most kinetic environment while we were there," said Chief Warrant Officer Jason H. Perry, EOD officer, 7th ESB, 1st MLG, who explained that the write-up read aloud to a formation did not fully encompass Swanson's performance. "He was involved in at least 50 more combat missions while serving as a team leader for the two-man team."
In one particular event, the citation states that Swanson was tasked with the termination of five dual-pressure plate IEDs in a single day, which are intended to kill a technician during the disabling of the volatile device.
"He was the busiest EOD tech in the country at the time," said Perry, 31, Lockport, N.Y. "It's well deserved."
Swanson's efforts assisted in obtaining useful information regarding the enemy's tactics, techniques and procedures of combat which resulted in a safer environment for local civiliansand U.S. service members.
"Gunnery Sergeant Swanson's performance during this time frame has been nothing short of spectacular," said Perry. "His contributions in support of Explosive Ordnance Disposal operations have greatly contributed to the success of the Global War on Terrorism, and is deserving of singular recognition."