Five years ago today, Lance Corporal Shane Swanberg, USMC, 24, was killed in Iraq. I knew Shane as he played soccer for several years with my son Nathan on the LWYSA Strikers. Shane was always smiling and in a good mood, even after he had tangled with an opponent who outweighed him by 30 pounds. Shane was not the biggest or fastest player on the team but he was determined and never hesitated, always giving it his all. He graduated from Juanita High School in 2000. He was a great kid, fun to watch and to be around. He loved golf and racqetball.

After 9/11, Shane joined the Marine Corps. He spent nearly three years at 29 Palms down in California, but was always seeking a way to get to Iraq. He once showed Tom Arnold on the Best Damn Sports Show how the machine gun on his Humvee worked. He and his unit, 3/7 Weapons Company, CAAT RED,  finally received orders for Iraq and he arrived on 9/8/05. He was killed on the 15th in an early morning attack. I was told he was walking to get breakfast around 7 AM and the base was hit by mortars and/or rockets.

There were 800 people at Northshore Baptist Church for his funeral service. I told his mom and dad, Linda and Brian, that I would never let Shane be forgotten. They are good people who raised a fine son, who gave his life for his country and for the freedom of people in another land. I wear a bracelet with Shane’s name every day. His family are in my thoughts and prayers. I have not and never will forget. Neither should you.

The James Michener novel, The Bridge at Toko-Ri, about naval aviators and the Korean War, ends as the Admiral on the carrier is informed that he has lost a pilot and the helicopter crew that went to rescue him. He muses ‘ Where does America get such men?’.  I know where, from homes with good parents who raise their children with respect, appreciation and a sense of responsibility. That’s where America got Shane. That’s where America will always get the men and women it needs to defend it and vanquish her enemies. When those homes disappear, so will America.

Lance Corporal Shane Swanberg, USMC, RIP, thank you for your service and sacrifice. Linda and Brian, thank you for yours. Never forget the price of freedom. Never forget Shane Swanberg. Never forget.


  1. Ed says:

    Thanks Kirby,
    Shane and his parents are heroes.

    All who are vets appreciate you and your respect for veterans.

    Being a Vietnam era vet, I was never thanked for my service until after 9/11. Now that has chnaged and it is great to see that there are great Americans who appreciate the sacrifices that these brave young men make.

  2. Patty says:

    Thank you so much, Kirby, for helping us all remember that in spite of the evail that is in this world, there still is good. We just need to look for it. Blessings!

  3. Joel says:


    Thank you for sharing that wonderful tribute.

    I remember you mentioning your bracelet, at the June GOP Convention, I think it was.

    Too many do not fully appreciate the safety and the freedoms that we enjoy here in America, and the sacrifices it has taken over centuries in order to secure and maintain them for us all.

    If not for the courage, dedication and of strong men and women such as this fine young man, Lance Corporal Shane Swanberg, these comforts, this country, would not exist, at least not in this form.

    Linda and Brian Swanberg, my heart is with you.

    Thank you again, Kirby, for this reminder.

  4. Elaine Kinney says:

    God Bless Shane and his family. You gave the ultimate sacrifice so that I an my family can be free and live in this great land.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  5. Dick Catt says:

    Thanks Kirby for all that you do.

  6. Marge Danskine says:

    What a wonderful tribute, Kirby. It’s a tear jerker and a great reminder of what we owe these young men and women.

  7. Crystal says:

    Thanks for reminding us- I will never forget.

  8. Stevie says:

    What a great way to remember Shane. Thank you to Shane and his family for their sacrifice. You, Kirby, said this better than I could have and my heart feels proud to have men like Shane fighting for our freedom and liberty.You are right, America will survive because of men like Shane. I pray for our troops and I always try to thank them when I see them.

  9. Don Hansen says:

    Thank you Kirby, for holding up the name, Shane Swanberg, for us. We need to be reminded from time to time, of the price of freedom.

  10. Lonnie says:

    Thanks Kirby. As we become farther removed from 9/11 and the reason(s) we went to war, this type of reminder is not just appreciated, but sorely needed.

    As my nephew nears heading to Afghanistan in October, your comments couldn’t be more timely.

    Thank you again.

  11. Marsha Kriney says:

    WOW…Thanks for that Kirby. I, too was at Shanes memorial, standing outside with others with our Flag so we would make sure others passing by would know there was a special person being remembered in that Church.

  12. Linda Clanin-Swanberg says:

    Kirby…thank you so uchg for this beautiful memorial message. It means so much to me and i know to Brian also. I treasure the words you have chosen to so accurately describe Shane’s decision to volunteer his service. On September 14, 2005, Shane emailed me. In a portion of his last email he stated, “I can’t thank everyone enough for your support and prayers, it really makes me feel good to fight over here for such warm hearted , wonderful people back in the states.” He goes on and adds, “I pray daily for all of you and will continue to do so. Please take care of yourselves and each other.” Kirby, I just wanted to give you some of Shane’s last words home…he was thinking, praying and asking us all to care for each other. He was praying for us…. Truly these are the words of a son, now in the war zone..A son knowing the intensity he has just entered into..The subject line of this email was “Starting the Missions”…..

    Thank you Kirby for you article on Shane…It is a wonderful reminder to all of us….

    Linda Swanberg
    Proud Mom of LCpl Shane Swanberg

  13. Thank you Kirby!!
    We cannot forget. Freedom isn’t free because women & men like Shane pay the ultimate price for the freedom of this nation & for each of us individually, with their life. WE value life. It is sacred to us, and the willingness of a man or woman to give of their life makes it even more meaningful as we think about the loss of that person & all that loss implies.
    I would like to see a “Wall,” something, web pages, something, for each WA county, with information of each person we lose, one place, where we could leave a reply for the family & friends, or add memories we may have of the person, or send a card or donation in the name of the lost one.
    I am willing to take on the task for my county, Kitsap.

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