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First Name: Paul

Last Name: Swank

Birthplace: Cape Girardeau, MO, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Houston, TX
Middle Name: A.

Date of Birth: 12 February 1921

Date of Death: 17 August 1944

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served:
Paul A. Swank

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Paul A. Swank

First Lieutenent, U. S. Army

Distinguished Service Cross

Headquarters, U.S. Army-Mediterranean Theater of Operations, General Orders No. 70 (April 17, 1945)
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant (Corps of Engineers) Paul A. Swank (ASN: 0-1112344), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company B, 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion (Separate), Office of Strategic Services, in action against enemy forces Quillan, France, on 17 August 1944.
Despite the announced policy of the Germans that Allied paratroopers found working with the partisans would be treated as spies and immediately killed, Lieutenant Swank voluntarily parachuted with his section into Southern France on 11 August 1944, four days before the Allied invasion. On 17 August he made plans to attack a huge enemy food warehouse and placed Maquis in the hills covering all roads to prevent the enemy from reinforcing or withdrawing the warehouse garrison of 250 men. When information revealed that the enemy was on the march in strength from Couiza to aid the warehouse garrison, he, with four American and eighteen Maquis, set out to intercept the approaching enemy by destroying a bridge. Arriving at the target, he decided that blasting rock from a cliff would be quicker than blowing up the bridge, as the enemy was rapidly approaching. When he found that the extent of the damage resulting from the blast was not enough to halt the enemy force, and knowing that it would have been futile to engage his small force against the Germans, he ordered his men to escape into the hills while he and his sergeant covered their withdrawal with automatic weapons. He succeeded in his brave attempt to delay the enemy's advance until his men could find satisfactory cover from which to battle the Germans.
During this action Lieutenant Swank was hit four times by enemy machine gun fire before he fell to the ground, then he drew his pistol and continued the fight until he was dead. The delaying action by Lieutenant Swank enabled his men to find excellent cover from which they continued to battle the Germans. Inspired by their leader's sacrifice, the men numbering only twenty, succeeded in turning the enemy back, inflicting forty-five casualties in killed and wounded, against slight losses for the Americans and Maquis. The retreat of the German force also enabled the rest of the section and Maquis to conquer the enemy food warehouse. In the carrying out of a most difficult mission under extremely hazardous conditions, First Lieutenant Swank displayed the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States.

Origin of Nickname/Handle:

Texas WWII Exceptional Gallantry

Honoree ID: 315829   Created by: drjones46




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