Saturday, February 03, 2007

Timothy A. Swanson dies of injuries from I.E.D.

A Fort Hood soldier from San Antonio died last weekend after being struck by a roadside bomb in Iraq, the Pentagon reported Wednesday.

Cpl. Timothy A. Swanson, 21, was one of three soldiers to perish in the attack in Taji, a town north of Baghdad in the infamously volatile Sunni Triangle.

"I think we were both numb," San Antonio attorney Keith Howard said of how he and his wife, Dana, reacted when told of their son's death. "And since then the numbness has subsided into waves of grief but always punctuated by tremendous pride in our son and his sacrifice."

Swanson, a 2003 Clark High School graduate, was killed Saturday along with Pfc. Jon B. St. John II, 25, of Neenah, Wis., and Pfc. David T. Toomalatai, 19, of Long Beach, Calif. The Army said they died after an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle, a Humvee, while on convoy operations.

It was Swanson's second tour in Iraq, one he neither shied from nor talked much about with his folks. After returning home from his first tour he didn't discuss the violence troops in the area face, instead reflecting on how his buddies used their off time working out and playing video games.

"I think his first trip there was a positive experience for him because he was able to see how other cultures live and see what a difference that is with how we live in America," said Howard, a 49-year-old one-time newspaper copy editor.

The grandson of a World War II fighter pilot, he'd always thought about joining the military and possibly even making it a career. Swanson's said his son's decision to join in 2003, though, was more rooted in his desire "to basically serve his country, to see the world, to get an education, to become a man. I'm very proud, very proud of him and his service and yes, he did meet his goals. The army turned him into a fine man."

Posted to Fort Carson, Colo., he was an M-1 tank crewman and did just about everything in that job, working as a driver and ammunition loader before changing his Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS. While in Iraq, he received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

Soon enough, he returned.

An ROTC student in high school, Swanson was back in the Baghdad area assigned to a personal security detail. There was no quibbling about another tour of the "sandbox," as troops call Iraq, and no visible worries.

"He didn't hesitate to go back, and he wasn't scared," Howard said. "When you're young, you're bulletproof."

From the Express News