A Special Forces Army hero with ties to Southwest Florida and Fort Myers Beach was recently honored at a national premier high school football game, one that showcases the talents of the best players and band members in the country.
Sergeant First Class Christopher Swan, who lived in south Fort Myers after high school and whose stepmother, Darlene McCarthy, currently lives on San Carlos Boulevard, was recognized as a "soldier hero" during pregame festivities of and at the U.S. Army-All American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas last Saturday, Jan. 5.
Swan, one of 60 Army soldiers selected to be at the game, mentored athletes and band members during the week leading up to the game.
"There is a camaraderie that is similar between Army soldiers and team sports athletes. It's all about the team," he said. "It was an honor to be selected to represent Special Forces here at the U.S. Army-All American Bowl."
Swan, age 37, joined the Army before 9/11 at age 24 to serve his country with intentions of getting the GI Bill for advanced education purposes. But after being deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he realized the Army was the career he was looking for since finishing high school.
"After my first enlistment, I decided to make it a career because I enjoyed it," he said.
Swan, who has done six tours of duty overseas, was heralded for his second deployment effort during Operation Iraqi Freedom 3, where he received an Army Commendation Medal for Valor. While under heavy fire, the fire team leader was able to assist his team, positioning himself towards direct fire of M240-B machine gun on enemy positions. After gaining fire superiority, he bound toward the enemy positions, spotting possible enemy mines. He alerted his squad of the location of the potential threat. Once the squad hit the limit of advance and the enemy threat was eliminated, Swan was able to help emplace the M240-B machine gun for rear security.
"It was chaotic, but we fall back on our training every day in the Army and deal with those situations," he said.
Swan related his training to that of the student athletes he mentored while in San Antonio.
"There is not a lot of difference, because football players move through their regiment all the time during their training. It's basically the same thing we go through in a certain order," he said. "It helps us reach our goals and teaches us what to do in tight situations."
Swan said the student athletes showed interest in what he had to say and what Army soldiers do.
"They are bright kids. All of them are getting ready to go to college. They equated how we train to what they do for the sport," he said.
Swan currently is a special operations soldier for a Special Forces group at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo. He plans on serving his country in the Armed Forces until retirement.