For Niles officer and soldier, there’s no place like home
By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- There is no place like home for Niles City Police officer Scott Swanson.
Swanson, who is also part of the Army Reserve, returned home to Niles on March 5 after nearly a year of military duty in Cuba.
As a soldier in the 384th Military Police Battalion, out of Fort Wayne, Ind., he was stationed at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where his duty was similar to that of a prison guard.
In March 2003, Swanson was forced to leave his wife Anna and his three children behind when he was sent to Camp Atterbury in Indianapolis to receive training for an Internment/Resettlement mission in Iraq.
After a few months of training, Swanson and his battalion learned at the last minute that they would not be going to Iraq, but instead to Guantanamo Bay.
Swanson said there were mixed feelings among his battalion when they heard the news.
Swanson arrived in the stifling temperatures of Cuba in May, where he worked in Camp Delta looking after military detainees. He said it would frequently get up to 110 degrees during the day.
He said the detainees, many of Islamic descent, all received three "culturally correct meals" a day, an opportunity to read and study their religion and regular recreational time.
Swanson compared his living quarters to "an apartment complex in a neighborhood setting." He lived with eight soldiers in a four bedroom home.
When he did not have to work, he said the military provided the soldiers with plenty of opportunities for recreation.
The Guantanamo Bay area provided them with a golf course, boat rentals, fishing, scuba diving, movie theaters and even a shopping center.
Swanson's tour in Cuba was his second tour with the Army Reserve.
A month after the September 11 tragedy, Swanson was sent to Fort Hood in Texas, where he was responsible for fort security and keeping law and order.
Swanson was very gracious of the support he received from the City of Niles. To show Swanson, that the city was behind him, the city council agreed to pay the difference in his salary as a Niles City Police officer and his pay in the military.
Before going to Guantanamo Bay, he received a promotion in the military and his pay was very close to what he would have received as a police officer, so it was not necessary for the city to assist him financially while he was in Cuba.
Being part of the military, Swanson said he is in full support of our country's efforts in Iraq.
While he said his time in Cuba was a great experience, Swanson is extremely happy to be back in Niles with his family.
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