Based: Ft. Drum, N.Y.
3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: August 8, 2009
National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., USA
Hometown: Lake Forest
High School: Trabuco Hills High (Mission Viejo)
He was this big Army guy. But when he would come home, he was our Matt.
— Traci Swanson, sister
Lake Forest soldier mourned as hero and friend
By ALEJANDRA MOLINA
The Orange County Register story here:
He was the prankster who touched his girlfriend's heart. The attentive listener to his friends. The boy his older sister saw evolve into a courageous young man.
Nearly 100 family and friends gathered at Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary in Santa Ana on Friday afternoon for the funeral of Army Spc. Matthew Swanson.
"Matthew was a solider, a hero, a friend, a brother; his charisma, bravery, passion will always be remembered," said his sister Traci, weeping as she spoke during the memorial for her younger brother.
"What you fought for is bigger than all of us and your bravery will always be honored and remembered," she added.
The Lake Forest soldier, who was injured in Afghanistan in July, died Aug. 8. He was 20.
Loved ones cried and embraced each other as his sister Traci gave an emotional eulogy of the brother with whom she shared, she said, "amazing conversations."
"One who lived a life in a way someone beyond his years would; I always had such an admiration for Matty," she said.
Traci talked about their movie nights, their camping adventures, and cried as she remembered the flower he gave to her that he picked from a mountain in Afghanistan.
"Over the past 20 years I don't think he has ever given me such a beautiful gift. It gave me validation that he was thinking of me while he was out there," she said.
"He was truly proud to be in the Army," she added.
Five of his closest friends, including his former girlfriend, also spoke. They laughed and cried, remembering pranks he would play on his friends, music he would play on his guitar, and how they would just talk about life over a cigar.
A reception was held at Solano Park, where Swanson would spend a lot of his time while at home.
Swanson sustained injuries during a vehicle rollover accident on July 19 in Logar Province, Afghanistan.
The soldier had returned home to visit in June and left on the Fourth of July, his father Jeff Swanson said. He mourned the loss of his son, but said he was glad Matthew died doing what he wanted to do.
"He always wanted a job where he was making a difference. He's a hero in more ways than one," Jeff Swanson said, adding that his son died for his country and that his organs will be donated. "In his 20 years, he accomplished a lot."
In a statement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Swanson a "dedicated soldier who selflessly worked to defend the values that our country was built upon."
Swanson joined the Army after graduating from Trabuco Hills High School in 2007. He was deployed to Afghanistan in January as a member of the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
A member of the military honor guard presents Ana Lara, the mother of U.S. Army Specialist Matthew Swanson, with the flag that covered his casket at his funeral Friday morning at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana.
Read more about Army Specialist Matthew K.S. Swanson here and here.
Army Specialist Matthew K. S. Swanson was previously remembered at Boom3 on Wednesday, August 11, 2010