DOD confirms death of Rochester Marineby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
Rochester, Minn. — The U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed the death of a young Marine from Rochester serving in Afghanistan.
The military says Lance Cpl. Curtis Swenson, 20, died April 2 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province. He was a mortarman with Weapons Company in the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment based at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
The DOD says Swenson's unit deployed in November to conduct counterinsurgency operations in partnership with Afghan National Security Forces. Swenson also served in Iraq in 2008.
Swenson joined the Marines after graduating from Mayo High School in 2007.
In a statement, Mayo High School Principal Tim Dorway said the faculty members at his school as well as the district are saddened by the news of Swenson's death. He says Swenson was a good student who was well-liked by his classmates.
Swenson's sister, Emily Swenson, created the Facebook page over the weekend to honor her brother. Hundreds of notes of condolences have poured in on the page from friends, relatives and strangers. As of Monday afternoon, more than 1,000 people had joined the group.
Another Facebook page for the organization Support Our Marines says Swenson was killed after the vehicle he was traveling in hit an improvised explosive device. Swenson's family wasn't available for comment Monday afternoon.
Julianne Angstman is the president of the Rochester Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers, a support group for mothers of deployed soldiers. She says her group is looking at way to come together to support the Swenson family.
"It just breaks our hearts that another soldier's lost, but we're very proud of the soldier and his service to the country -- as we're proud of all of our soldiers," said Angstman. "Our heart goes out to the family and the friends of the soldier who we've lost."
An employee at the Macken Funeral Home in Rochester says Swenson's body is expected to be returned to Minnesota by Friday. Funeral services are pending.
Swenson is the 78th person with strong ties to Minnesota to die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(The Associated Press conributed to this report.)
- All Things Considered, 04/05/2010, 6:28 p.m.