- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Monday was a special day of reflection, recognition, restoration and honor for Greene County-based Indiana Conservation Officer Greg Swanson.

First Sgt. Swanson had been awarded the Purple Heart as a member of the Indiana National Guard’s 387th Military Police Company out of New Albany for injuries sustained in Afghanistan in 2012. Swanson remains active in the National Guard.

On Jan. 29, Swanson gave his Purple Heart medal to the family of Leonard Wayne McIntosh, just minutes before the funeral for the 88-year-old World War II veteran began at Tulip Church of God in rural Bloomfield.

Swanson’s act was a token of respect and honor for McIntosh, who never had the distinction of wearing the Purple Heart while he was alive.

The gesture by Swanson, who has nearly 20 years of service in the Indiana National Guard, has been described as a selfless act of love and respect for a late World War II veteran, who died Jan. 26.

McIntosh’s family had been seeking for years to prove the validity of the Purple Heart request.

There was plenty of government red-tape to battle through –- a process that was complicated when it was learned that Wayne’s war service records had been destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, along with up to 18 million other personnel files.

McIntosh was injured when a building in southern France was bombed while he was inside.

Just before his funeral, McIntosh finally received his military honor.

Swanson told the Greene County Daily World (http://bit.ly/1lRWiVM ) that he surrendered his medal to McIntosh because he felt the elder Army veteran had earned it –- probably more than he did.

Monday morning, Swanson was surprised when he received a duplicate Purple Heart from Indiana Adjutant Gen. Martin Umbarger in a ceremony at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in Indianapolis.

Swanson’s parents, David and Mary Ann Swanson, traveled from Michigan for the ceremony.

“It doesn’t surprise me. He has always been this way since he was a kid. When his sister didn’t want to do a job, he’d say, ‘I’ll just do it,’” his mother said. “He’s always been very helpful and always wanting to help people and family or anyone that needs help.”

His mother said her son’s military service changed him.

“He came back with the idea that he came back and some didn’t make it back. He kind of felt like he didn’t get hurt enough to get a Bronze Star or a Purple Heart,” she explained. “He’s always done the best job he can in whatever he’s been in.”

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