Nightly News   |  October 15, 2013

Helmet cam shows Medal of Honor recipient’s compassion

Army Captain Will Swenson was recognized for his heroism in eastern Afghanistan where in 2009 he and his men were ambushed, and Army commanders refused to provide combat reinforcements. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it was an emotional afternoon at the white house as a former army captain became the 79th living recipient of the medal of honor , u.s. army captain william swinson was honored for his heroism and his complete disregard for his own safety. during the war in afghanistan , some of it was captured on camera. president obama said swinson was an example of what americans can be at their best.

>> reporter: september 2009 , a medi-vac helicopter, army captain will swinson guides the chopper to a landing, in one of the worst battles of the army. he and his men walked into a deadly ambush.

>> if you tried to get up and move, you could have bullets at your feet.

>> reporter: he led his troops as they ran into the kill zone and rescued the wounded and searched for missing marines.

>> you can never allow a service member to be taken hostage, alive or dead. you bring them home and that is what we did.

>> reporter: swinson desperately radioed for help, but army commanders refused to provide combat helicopters or reinforcements. an army investigation later found those commanders were negligent, leading directly to the loss of life. the four americans were later found dead.

>> you could clearly see they had been putting up a hell of a fight.

>> reporter: swinson bitterly blames their death on other reas reasons, not soldiers, a helmet cam captures ken westbrook being helped by swinson helped to the helicopter. in a flash, he gives him a kiss.

>> in the middle of the war, you kiss your fellow soldier, why?

>> i wanted to make it clear to him, he had done good. you're going home .

>> it sounds like you were surprised to see you would do that.

>> yes, but he was my soldier.

>> but you're glad you did it?

>> absolutely. absolutely.

>> reporter: westbrook died a month later. discourage discouraged, swinson quit the army two years ago, but is now working to return to active duty and the brotherhood of soldiers. nbc news, the pentagon.