LAKE ARIEL - Recognizing valor, courage and sacrifice, a Purple Heart recipient from the Iraq War was honored, Tuesday morning, August 7th by Hideout Property Owners Association with a week vacation at the private recreational community. Daniel Swift, the guest of honor, was present with his family for the beach-side ceremony at the Hideout’s Main Lodge where a flagpole was dedicated in honor of all Purple Heart recipients.
Spc. Daniel J. Swift, a resident of Yonkers, New York City and fireman with Ladder 43 in East Harlem, served in Iraq in the U.S. Army. On November 29, 2004, the Humvee in which he was riding outside of Baghdad drove over an improvised explosive device. The explosion threw the vehicle and the soldiers in the air. In the grisly aftermath, with an ensuing gun battle, Swift, a combat medic, crawled with injuries of his own and was able to save the life of a severely wounded fellow soldier.
Swift received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart medal for his actions.
He was a member of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard.
Bob Wiegand, President of the Hideout Help a Hero Fund, Inc. and a U.S. Air Force veteran, explained that he has tried for six years to arrange for a Purple Heart recipient to benefit from a fee vacation at their community, and wanted for a long time to have a flagpole erected at the Main Lodge beach. These wishes came together, and with the aid of American Legion Post 807 in Hamlin, Hideout officials and many others, the ceremony was performed.
Hideout resident Noreen Crummy offered her house for the week stay for Swift, his wife Colette and young daughters Saoirse and Fodhla. A basket of free offers from businesses in the area was also provided, including gift certificates for meals, groceries and local attractions.
As a brunch was getting underway after the 10 a.m. ceremony, Swift shared, “As a whole we really want to thank the Hideout community.” He said that the patriotism and respect they showed for veterans “really restored my faith in America.” He and his wife thanked Wiegand and the many others who made it possible.
During the ceremony, however, it was Swift who was showered with thanks, acknowledging the sacrifice and bravery he showed as an example of the many wounded warriors of the U.S. Armed Forces and Purple Heart recipients who have served their country above self.
Rich Straczynski, Chairman of the Hideout Board of Directors, commented that Swift’s actions was an example of facing the enemy and refusing to give up and allow the enemy to win. He urged the crowd to use Daniel Swift’s story as an inspiration as we face our own enemies, whether it be cancer, broken families or drug abuse, to cite some examples.
Tim French, Past Commander of the 15th Division American Legion, spoke of the sacrifice and heavy price endured by the family, as well as the one who was wounded or killed for one’s country. He took note of the common trait he has seen of Purple Heart recipients, that of “quiet humility.”
A proclamation from the Wayne County Commissioners was presented. Others who spoke included Bill Wagner, Vice President, Hideout Help A Hero Fund; Joe Acla, Community Manager; Mike Mascari, Past State Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart; John Chrin, Candidate for Congress, 8th Congressional District; and Edward Sparkowski, Chaplain.
Post 807 provided Posting of Colors, Taps and Rifle Salute.
A plaque was unveiled, dedicating the 40-foot flagpole to all Purple Heart recipients. Swift assisted in hoisting the American flag on the pole.
The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington in 1782, when he was commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. The Purple Heart was revived by executive order by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932.
An estimated 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded in the nation’s history. The U.S. military decoration is awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving.