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Daniel Swaney

In Memory of TSgt Daniel R. Swaney, USAF

July 25, 1984 – May 7, 2015

United States Air Force Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR)

Technical Sergeant Daniel Ryan Swaney, USAF, 30, of Las Vegas, passed away Thursday, May 7, 2015. Born in Toccoa, GA, he was the beloved son of his mother, Kathy Williams and husband Glenn and his father, Douglas Merritt Swaney and wife Mary. TSgt Swaney served with the United States Air Force for over 12 years having been in Africa, Korea and two tours in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Shared at his service:

“Thank you all for coming to help us celebrate the life of Daniel as we don’t say good-bye; but say “see you later” to our brother, cousin, son, nephew, grandson and comrade.  

My name is William Dietrich. Daniel is my cousin by birth, but he become a great friend and mentor throughout our lives. 

When Kathy asked me to talk about Daniel, I thought, how can I possibly talk about a guy who has had such an astounding impact on so many people across the world? I began thinking back to when we were kids and I would spend weeks at a time at his “out in the country” house as I called it. We spent days at the lake on the boat, riding bikes, going to church, mudding on four wheelers, building forts, climbing trees, tracking mud in the house and of course always leaving the backdoor open only to be told by Kathy to “leave the dirt and animals outside.” 

As we got older Daniel joined the Air Force shortly after graduating High School while I attended Clemson University. Fast forward a few years and Daniel became a mentor to me. I decided to “cross into the blue” and as you can imagine, I had a lot of questions about the Air Force. At that point, Daniel had already been serving for several years, so he was able to guide me and give me great advice about my future career in the Air Force.

Daniel’s career in the Air Force has been nothing short of exemplary. Daniel truly embodied the core values of the Air Force; Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. Daniel really is an American Warrior. Daniel served in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and FREEDOM’S SENTINEL in many locations around the world including Shaw, AFB South Carolina; Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea; twice at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan; Camp (Lay –mon-air) Lemonnier, in the Republic of Djibouti; Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; and Nellis AFB, Las Vegas Nevada. 

I had the opportunity to read many of the citations for awards that Daniel received throughout his career; and let me tell you the accomplishments he made are nothing short of astonishing.  Daniel received five Air Medals, one Air Force Commendation Medal, and two Air Force Achievement Medals. 

I would like to read a few excerpts from his citations. In 2007, while serving as an F-16 Crew Chief, Daniel superbly maintained his aircraft at a 94 percent fully mission capable rate, surpassing the Air Combat Command’s standard by 12 percent.

In 2009, while serving at Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea, Daniel achieved an incredible 97 percent mission capable rate of the most aggressive Combat Air Force F-16 flying hour program of fiscal year 2009.

In 2012 while serving for the first time in Kandahar Afghanistan as a Flight Engineer, Daniel often flew into hostile territory with unimproved point of injury landing zones to conduct casualty evacuation missions. His actions saved the lives of American and coalition forces, Afghan National Police and Army, as well as local civilians. 

In 2013 while again serving in Kandahar Afghanistan, Daniel flew 40 missions resulting in 33 saved lives including one coalition Solider in critical condition. 

Additionally, in 2013 Daniel served at Camp (Lay-mon-air) Lemonnier in the Republic of Djibouti while there he flew 30 sorties totaling 80 hours and maintained 35 days of alert in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn or Africa’s fight against violent extremists. 

In 2014 while serving at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. After Army medevac helicopters determined the weather was too poor to launch, Daniel’s formation set out to rescue a coalition Solider who was rapidly hemorrhaging out. In the midst of a building thunderstorm and with zero illumination, Daniel’s role was instrumental as he ensured clearance from obstructions, hazards and other aircraft during extremely dangerous conditions. The formation successfully recovered the Solider and expeditiously delivered him to advanced medical care, ultimately saving the combatant’s life. 

In January of this year, while still serving at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Daniel launched south of Kabul to provide immediate medical evacuation for an American Service member with a life-threatening brain injury and delivered him to advanced medical care, ultimately saving his life. 

You can see from these citations that Daniel had an everlasting impact on a magnitude people around the world. Even though Daniel is no longer with us, his infectious personality, jolly sense of humor, and witty character still lives on inside each of us. 

I would like to read a poem that I feel Daniel would like for all of us to hear.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the Gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the mornings hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight,

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there, I did not die.

Rest Easy, Sleep Well My Brother. Know The Line Has Held, Your Job Is Done.” Shared by William Dietrich

Some remembrances:

“I knew Daniel well. He was one of my best guys when I was an expediter at Shaw, and he was always the first to volunteer for the dirtiest jobs. He always had a “let’s do this” attitude and everyone could see his desire to put everything he had into his job and keep the spirits up of the guys to his left and right. I never heard anyone say a bad thing about him. He had the respect of everyone who ever worked with him. I know that no words can ease your pain, but I hope you can find some sort of solace knowing Dan was a great guy who loved his job, loved his friends, and loved his country. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace, Dan, you have earned it. See you on the other side brother…..”

“Daniel is a part of a brotherhood that was built as we all served our country. Your son was a great airman and most of all a great person. We all shared the bad times and the good times together. The one thing I remember the most is Dan’s smile. When times were hard he could always say something to get everybody laughing and make things a bit better. I know I speak for myself and so many others who served with him when I say that he will be truly missed. I pray that GOD will ease the pain in your heart and I share with you in the grief. Rest in Peace, Dan.”

“You have our deepest gratitude for Dan’s service to our country and specifically to those wounded, injured or lost. No one will ever know the number of lives he impacted and the number of lives he helped save. Our son tells us he was a wonderful friend and a superior airman. He lived a life of honor. May God comfort and bless you during this difficult time.”

Born in Toccoa, GA

Resting Place: Heritage Memorial Cemetery Westminster, SC

Swaney Daniel USAF