Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Sgt. Brett D. Swank

21, of Northumberland, Pennsylvania.
Swank died in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his position. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, Fort Polk, Louisiana. Died on January 24, 2005.

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"just bought a 2000 ford ranger that came with a key chain holder with his name on it,
didn't know him but from what I looked up ...
he seems to be a real swell human being,,,
god bless"
Xavier of Lincoln RI

"I was a part of the mortar squad with swank and spent some great times with him both in the field playing opfor and also out of the field, he was a great soldier and even better friend he is still greatly missed my prayers go out to his family I can only imagine how much they miss him. GERONIMO!!"
SSG Paga, Steve R of D. Co 3-101 AVN Ft. Campbell Ky.

"A group of Dayton High School boys were swimming at Cecil's pond in Crosby, TX and found a memorial bracelet for Sgt. Brett D. Swank. They would like to return this bracelet to his family. Please contact me for information. adale1967@yahoo.com 07/22/2013"
Alisha Dale of Dayton, TX 77535

"A group of Dayton High School boys were swimming at Cecil's pond in Crosby, TX and found a memorial bracelet for Sgt. Brett D. Swank. They would like to return this bracelet to his family. Please contact me for information. adale1967@yahoo.com"
Alisha Dale of Dayton, TX 77535

"I remember the first time I met Brett. In the woods at camp beuregard, louisiana, for the first Stryker Brigade rotation, May of 2003. He had just been shown a picture of my sister by one of my team members, and from 100 yards away started yelling at me. I wont say what he did :) But lemme tell you, if you dont already know it. Brett epitomized what it meant to be a paratrooper. One of the toughest SOB I've ever known. And he had the greatest sense of humor. God I miss him. RIP Brother, you are never gone, never forgotten. Watch over us to make sure we are continuing the ridiculous legacy you've passed on to us. Love you bro.

3rd Squad, 1st PLT, A Co.; 1st Battalion (AIRBORNE!!!!!) / 509th Infantry, Fort Polk. All the Way, GERONIMO!!!"
Tommy Brasington of Fort Hood, Texas

"To the family of:Brett D.Swank
I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015.
Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga""

"I was just thinking about the great times I spent in the woods of Fort Polk, LA with SGT Swank. I still remember as I am sure that the rest of the Mortars do.
1SG Michael J. Gately
HHT, 3-71 CAV, 3IBCT 10th MTN
Gatekeeper/Base plate"
Michael Gately of FOB Sarkari Karez, AFGAN

"Swank... The brief time I knew you before your deplyoment was of imeasurable benefit to me. From that alone I know that all those around you have been blessed by there proximity to you. Brett Swank, you are the first paratrooper I have cried for, unfortunantly,not the last. Pray for paratroopers."
Karl Thoeni of Salinas, Ca. Formerly Ft Polk, LA

"The last time I was with Brett was on a chair lift at Big Boulder Ski area. He had just finished Ranger school. Brett was the consummate professional. In my 28 years in the Army, I have met few soldiers of his caliber and mettle. I was truly honored to have known you Brett."
Joseph R. Fischer of Leavenworth, KS

"I still have the RANGER TAB you gave me. I think about you often and miss you."
BasePlate of Logar Provance, Afgan

"Still praying for you and your family, Brett."
Erin Barnhart of Idaho

"I knew Brett breifly before his deployment to Iraq. In the short time that I knew him I learned that he was a charmer and could easily put a smile on anyone's face. He will be greatly missed always by all that had the pleasure of knowing him.
To the Swank family,
I am so sorry for your loss. I think of Brett often and know that he is now in a much better place. I will keep you in my heart and God will keep you in His hands."
Bethany of Deridder, LA

"I was Hustlers squad leader for a while A Co. 1-509th till he went to Ranger school and got promoted I am proud to have served with him he is amongst the most motivated people I have ever known. Shared many stories and played many hands of spades with SWANK hell Ive spent more time with him playing OPFOR than I have with my own family in the past ten years I miss him I keep a section photo on my wall I will tell my son about him when hes old enough to understand
Chris Fleming of Douglasville GA

"I served with Sgt Swank in A co during our deployment to Iraq. I have a memorial tattoo on my leg in honor of him and Sgt Brown. I just wanted to let his family know that he is still thought of daily bye a large number of people... many of whom they have never met. Miss you Brett."
Ryan D Morgan of Anoka, MN

"Mr. and Mrs. Swank,

I served with Brett in FT. Polk but did not get the chance to be deployed along side him, I was in Delta Troop at that time so I didn't get a chance to be around him as much as I would have liked. The short time I knew him I have to say he was the most positive and outstanding soldier I had ever met. " If I could only be as half as devoted and positive as him I would one day be a great NCO also!". He always had a smile or knew how to make you laugh, but was as professional as they come when it came down to business. I do not speak for myself when I say I will miss him and it was a great honor to know your son! Brett, we will see you soon and Geronimos will reunite again brother! Hootie Hoo"
Sgt. Derek B. Christy of Johnston, IA

"another year goes by, remember that night everyday. brett gave it all and i hope, that how i live makes him proud and that i'm making what he gave for us count."
sean b. donnellan of normal, il

"January 18, 2009
To the family of Sgt. Brett D. Swank:
Brett gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Yo man we miss you alot wish you coulda kept on fightin. Woulda been hell of battle to serve with you brotha. Ill see you on the other side man. Thanks for helping us out and ill do my best to fight as hard as you did.miss u man peace"
Nick Borch of Milton,PA USA

"Thank you Brett. I will never forget you you brother."
SFC Rusty Watts of Germany

"Many prayers for your family today, Brett. May you continue to rest in peace. You are our hero."
Erin of Post Falls, ID

"I just wanted to say that I am sorry for your loss. Swank was a good man. I had the privlidge of serving with him in the 509th apon his arrival until May 04. He was quick to put a smile on anyones face. He will always be in our hearts."
Sgt. Williams, Michael of Billings, Mt

"Brett will never be forgotten! Typed in swank on google on found this site. It's great to see this is here. But more importantly Brett is always here
with all of us. Miss you everyday "Hustler". 3rd squad all the way swank...ALL THE WAY!!!

"These guys said it best:

people sleep peacably in thier beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on thier behalf"

George Orwell."
SGT Aaron Welch(B co 1-509th) of Ft. Polk, LA

"Lest we forget the Heros."
Anonymous of Maryland
I think this was Virgil, from the Aenid..sp?"
Brent Boling of Cheney, Wa

"Swank Family--
I was looking up my old unit(97-99)and this was the first page I found. I remember the non-traditional tactics we practiced back at Ft. Polk at JRTC, and how proud we were to be different. We were a unique group of soldiers, and I know your son shared that status. I don't know anything about these boys being attatched to the 10th MT. Div....but I have several friends who came back in pieces from Iraq, or not at all. My time in the 509th consisted of some of my most treasured memories. If your son managed to be a part of "Geronimo" then he was one lucky son-of-a-*. Excuse the language. His inclusion in that priveleged group made him a hero in my eyes...I hope you all never have any doubts.
Much Love, Brent W. Boling--A co. 1/509"
Brent Boling of Cheney, Wa

"Mr and Mrs Swank,
I served with your son in Iraq in the 10th Mountain Division he was a great man and not i day goes by that i dont think of him.. I have since gotten out of the Army and living back in the Area in Selindgrove...I would like to visit your son's grave but do not know which cemitary he is in.If you could please tell me my e-mail is gary_sheatler@yahoo.com. thank you and god bless"
Gary L. Sheatler Jr of selinsgrove, pa

"Mr. and Mrs. Swank,
not a day goes by that i don't remeber that night. the soldier's of 509th that fought and died with 2/10 were the greatest. red devils, geranimos, bushmaster, b co 2-14, special people do special things at special times!"
Sean Donnellan of Gurnee, Illinois

"I served with Brett in the Battalion mortar platoon in the 509th before we deployed to Iraq. I think of him often and sometimes cry, but mostly laugh. He was the funniest guy in the platoon and a great soldier. His concern for his soldiers was sincere and I will miss him always. My heart felt prayers go out to his family and many, many friends. Geronimo!"
SSG Phillip Wiggins of Camp Hovey, South Korea

"To my ranger buddy and his strong family. There is never a day that passes that I don't think about "Hustler". He was one of my team leaders in the squad, and he was by far the best we had. He will always be remembered and I pray for his family all the time. He is home now where he is safe. "Rangers Lead the Way" See you in the future brother."
Bryan Ruffo of Kingsport, TN

"I never thought I would find one of my old geronimo brothers on the internet like this. I will never forget Swank's overwhelmingly comedic personality and love for all his comrades. My regards to the family and friends."
SSG Joseph Riddle of Baghdad, Iraq (once again)

"I don't think I can even say the name Brett Swank without breaking into a ridiculous grin. Swank you were a man amongst men and you won't be forgotten."
Sgt. Stephens of 1/325 AIR 82ND ABN DIV

"SGT Swank was one of the finest soldiers i ever had the chance to meet . and he defenatly kept us going on those long patrols in the desert i will miss him always and forget him never hell of a man and soldier

geronimo ..i will see you soon brother"
SGT Tongen Jack of fort carson ,co

"We still haven't forgotten you, Brett. You are in our thoughts and prayers often. The memories you made with Issac are burned in his mind forever."
SGT Issac and Erin Barnhart of Fort Rucker, AL

"Brett,now I know how an old man feels,sending young men off to war.It hurts!thanks for serving,we won`t forget.An old 509er"
Richard Futch of Buffalo,NY

""people sleep peacably in thier beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on thier behalf"

George Orwell."
SGT Aaron Welch(B co 1-509th) of Ft. Polk, LA

"Lest we forget the Heros."
Anonymous of Maryland

"We still remember Brett as the HERO that he is. We will never forget him and his sacrifice. Throughout his lifelong military career, we will always keep Brett's memory close to our hearts. Issac quietly wears his name band daily to remember his friend. May God continue to give your entire family comfort through the continuing pain that you feel. We keep you all in our prayers. We hope that no one will ever take for granted the sacrifices that our military heroes have made to ensure our freedom and protection."
SPC Issac and Erin Barnhart of Fort Polk, Louisiana 1-509th Airborne Infantry Regiment

"to the Swanks im sorry to hear about you son i went to school with him and also was in Iraq at the same time of his loss he was a good man but i dont have to tell you that but we all appreciate his dedication to his country"
Jerry of Schofield Barracks, HI

"To the Swanks. I was in your sons company with him. I had fought next to him in several fights when he was at fort polk. I also got to hang out with him more then a few times. Your son is a tragic loss to this world. He always found a way to make every one laugh and smile whenever we had hard times. I know that if we all could say or do somthing to make it all better again, then there would not be a limit to what Bretts Geronimo brothers wouldn't do to make that happen. I am so sorry for your loss. He will be missed greatly."
Jose Reyes of Ft. Hood Tx. U.S.A.

"Brett was a wonderful person who none of us will ever forget. He may be gone but he will never be forgotten by any of us. You have raised an amazing son who as you can tell has touched the lives of many people. You are all with us in our prayers and if you ever need anything don't be afraid to ask. May Brett live on forever, as his memory will remain."
Amanda of Sunbury, PA

"Dear Swank Family, our son was very close to your son, Jon(Cross) was planning a trip after Iraq with Brett.Jon just got a tatoo with "Swank" on it. He will always honor your dear, brave son. We will also. We planted a pear tree in his memory in our backyard on Memorial Day. I also painted a picture of the Flag at Fort Polk, I sold some prints of it and have money to send on to your Memorial Fund. You will hear from us soon. Our very deepest regrets and sympathy...."
Terry and Sheree (Cross)Canfield of Orchard Park, NY

"To the family; I lost my first born son 0n April 7th.,2003,Spc.George Mitchell Jr.in Baghdad,he was with the 3rd,id.,HHC,2nd.bd.combat team.George went back in to serve eight more years to retire and to give his best to our great country just like all of our HEROES that have gave the ultimate for us all.I feel your grief and i am open for you to talk to,there hasn't been one day since, that i don't think about him.I am proud of my HERO and will always remember him till we meet again.

George Mitchell Sr. of Enola,Pa.

"Dear Family of Brett Swank,
On this Memorial Day, we suffer the same sense of loss and grief. We will pray and honor your son, as we will our own. To Debbie, thank you for staying in touch with me these past months. I hope it has helped you as it has me. To Dan, thank you for the pin that you gave me at Fort Polk. I wear it every day with pride. To Brett's brothers, take care of each other, boys. This is probably the hardest road that you will ever travel. You are in my thoughts and prayers."
Lourdes Brown, Mother of Sgt. Andy Brown 509th KIA Oct. 8, 2004 of Pleasant Mount,PA

"To The family and friends of Brett Swank,
I want to express my heartfelt thanks for your raising a son that was so patriotic and such a great soldier. I had the pleasure of serving with him in the 509th. We in the 509th are truly a Band of Brothers, and Brett was no different. He always treated everyone he encountered and served with like a true brother. His legacy and work ethic will live on in our hearts forever. He will always be remembered and never forgotten."
SPC Kenneth Hadley and Shelley of Ft. Polk, LA

"I'll never forget you, Swank .DOGS OF WAR Aco 2/19"
SPC. Jose A. Arroyo of Ft.Carson

"Dear Mr. and Mrs Swank,

I had the honor of serving with your son in the 1/509th from May 02 up untill my discharge in Mar 04. Brett was a very happy and great guy. To be one of the few 11C to earn there Ranger Tab made him a great leader and very respected. Sgt. Swank will never be forgotten. To have such a key soldier lost the entire unit will suffer with heartache. I am sorry for your loss and your family is in my prayers. I only heard of this loss yesterday 2/23/2005 from a friend in training and I am sorry for such a late message."
John Merican of Leonardtown, MD USA

"Dear Swank Family and Friends:
My heart aches for you all. The best man I ever knew, Sgt. Keith Smette was killed exactly one year before your beloved. The pain of the loss is inexplicable, and you feel you may not be able to go on. Remember that the one you lost is in a better place and will never feel pain or heartache again. I want you to know that you are in my prayers, and although the pain remains, so do the memories. Keep him close to your heart, he is with you always~ God Bless you all!"
Lindsey Bergeron of Fargo, North Dakota

"I want you to know how willing I am to add my prayers for Brett's family and loved ones. I didn't know Brett personally, but I read the letter to the editor asking for prayer and know that prayer will help heal your hearts. God bless each and every one of Brett's family and friends with peace and comfort. We'll never forget what he gave for us...not ever."
Karen Frazer of Latrobe, PA

"To the family and friends of Brett. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I lost my fiancee in Iraq, Spc Shawn Davies in July. May you find comfort in your memories with Brett and know that many thought and prayers are with you. Godbless and take care."
Autum Shingler ashingler09@yahoo.com of Aliquippa, Pa

"Brett my brother, we spent so much time which left so many memories, from playing around after school in elem. school to playing soccer since we were little to being in JROTC together. My prayers are with you and the CIB that you wanted to deserve it more then then I do. God Bless You Brett,

love yah man,
SPC Persing, Nicholas"
SPC Persing, Nicholas of Ft. Bragg, NC/or Sunbury, PA

"To Brett's Family:
There are no words to express the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"I cant tell you how sorry I am for your loss. No one should ever suffer the pain we have.Your in my thoughts and prayers."
Kristen Brown, cousin of Sgt.Andrew W. Brown of Pleasant Mount, Penna.

"Dear Swank Family,
Our hearts ache for you and for all that knew and loved Brett. He gave his life for our country and that indeed is a great sacrifice. He was a member of our son's, Sgt. Andrew Brown, unit...the 509th. The Geronimos are indeed a special group of men. They stayed at Andy's side when he was injured in Baghdad. They remained with him until he died on the 8th of October. He was never alone. That was our only comfort when we couldn't be there with him. He had a whole other family with him. The men in that unit are as close as any family. We just wanted you to know that your son had that same family. They were truly brothers. If it would help you, please e-mail us at lbrown@nep.net Sincerely,"
Lourdes, Bill & Kevin Brown of Pleasant Mount, PA

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Swank and the rest of the Swank family-

We feel your loss so deeply. Brett was a very special man. Issac would often talk about photography with Brett. He lived right next door to him on camp. He was a good friend and a good soldier. Issac has several pictures of your son that he would like to send your way. We will try to locate your address through the 509th Rear Detachment. We mourn your loss and are praying for you continually. Remember the rest we all have in the Lord our Savior. He will give you peace.

Contact us if you wish-
Erin & PFC Issac Barnhart of 509th ABN-INF Fort Polk, LA

"My prayers are with the family and friends of Brett. Please know that I too, know that loss; my son Gunnery Sgt. Ronald Baum was killed in action May 3rd 2004 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
If you need to talk..I am here, please email me at connincrew@aol.com; and I will respond immediately. My heart aches for you. Lean on each other and do your best..sometimes that feels like just breathing..just for today in and out..may seem like the best you can do. Whatever it takes to get through the day lean on friends and family.
If possible, please let me know what arrangements are being made for Brett's return home. It would be my honor to pay my respects to this brave young man.
God's strength and grace to all.
May you know just a little the prayers that are being offered in your behalf and in Brett's name.
Semper Fi..OOORAH...a Marine's mom
God hold you in the palm of His hand always.
Gunny Baum's mom"
Connie Hilling of Williamsburg, Pa

"May God bless the family, friends & 509th comrades of SGT Brett Swank in the days & weeks to come. Be proud of Brett’s service to his country & to the other members of the 509th A Company. We understand & feel your loss, our nephew SGT Andrew Brown (KIA 10/08/04) was the first member of this very unique & very special unit to lose his life. We will never forget the unselfish sacrifice these fine young men have given for us to maintain our way of life. They have given an entire country half a world away the hope of a better life, a way of life that we often take for granted. Brett is a HERO in the truest sense of the word."
Frank O'Neill & Family of Pleasant Mount, PA

"To Bretts family, My deepest sympathy to your family. We also know your loss, because we lost our nephew Sgt. Andrew Brown on Oct. 8, 2004 from the same type of accident. The days ahead will be very hard for you. But just know that Brett is in our prayers daily. These young people that we lose are "Our American Heroes." God Bless you in this time."
Colleen Kelly of Pleasant Mount, Penna.

"I went to basic training with brett. You'll be missed, but NEVER forgotten my brother."
Sgt. Rod Severance of Fort Carson

"Thank you Brett Swank, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Brett Swank:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Brett for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Brett Swank:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Brett, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on