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.