Md. Soldier on 3rd Iraq Tour Is Killed in Gunfire Ambush

By Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 28, 2006

The last time that Army Staff Sgt. Christopher W. Swanson came home on leave to Anne Arundel County, after his second tour in Iraq, the first thing he did was borrow his father's car to visit fellow soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

A few weeks ago, the Rose Haven native was patrolling in his Humvee when a roadside bomb sent shrapnel into his legs, said uncle Glenn Swanson. As soon as he was stitched up, he went right back on patrol.

Swanson, 25, was killed July 22 when his unit was ambushed by gunfire in Ramadi, the Department of Defense announced yesterday. He is to be laid to rest Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery.

"He cared about his men. He truly believed in the mission," Glenn Swanson said last night in a telephone interview from Rose Haven, in south Anne Arundel near the Calvert County line. "He was a determined young man."

Swanson, who was on his third tour of duty, served with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, based in Baumholder, Germany. During his first tour, he took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Swanson joined the military two months after graduating from Southern High School in Harwood, where he was captain of the soccer team, his uncle said.

After completing basic training, he signed up to join the 82nd Airborne Division, although his mother, Kelly, could not understand the attraction of parachuting out of a perfectly operating airplane.

"The first thing he wanted to do was jump out of airplanes," Glenn Swanson said. "He just had that adventurous spirit."

Swanson was a fan of the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins, and he loved to boat and fish on the Chesapeake Bay near his home with his father, Gary, a longtime member of the Metro Transit Police.

As a youth, Swanson, a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro, took part in construction projects in Appalachia with the church and worked with youths in Cleveland, the Rev. James L. Burcham said.

"He was very much oriented toward service," Burcham said. "Chris was an exceptional young man who could have picked a lot of vocations in life but chose the military."

After Swanson died, an Army officer told his relatives that he had earned two Purple Hearts, Glenn Swanson said, but he had never told the folks at home.

In addition to his parents, Swanson is survived by a brother, Kenneth, and four grandparents.

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