Remembering Sharon Swartworth

Sharon Swartworth

Sharon Swartworth

Since 2004, ILTA has offered a leadership seminar in memory of a colleague, Sharon Swartworth. Some of our new members might not know of Sharon or her contribution to her profession and her country. Here’s an excerpt from a story that first appeared in the Washington Post about Sharon’s funeral:

Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Washington Post

Chief Warrant Officer Sharon T. Swartworth, a high-ranking official from the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, also was laid to rest, becoming the 38th casualty of the Iraq war to be buried at Arlington. The Black Hawk helicopter in which she had been a passenger was shot down November 7, 2003, near Tikrit.

At Swartworth’s funeral, a sea of dark green Army uniforms surrounded the graveside and flowed down the cemetery’s long road. Men and women in dark dress Navy uniforms peppered the crowd as well; Swartworth’s husband, William, is a Navy Captain stationed in Hawaii. Near him stood the couple’s 8-year-old son, William III. Swartworth was posthumously given the Distinguished Service Medal during the ceremony.

A 26-year veteran of the Army, Swartworth rose steadily through its ranks. She enlisted after high school and later was chosen to become a warrant officer, which put her in a special class of soldiers between enlisted personnel and commissioned officers.

In 1999, she became the corps’ top warrant officer, overseeing the efforts of dozens of legal administrators in offices around the world. Romig said her long career was an inspiration to soldiers, especially young women.

“She was an example of a person who had pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made herself a success,” he said.

Colleagues stressed Swartworth’s professionalism in modernizing JAG offices around the world. She brought computer automation to far-flung legal offices and helped the corps’ warrant officers join civilian associations for legal administrators.

She pulled JAG administration into the computer age with the same dogged determination that she applied to long-distance running, a favorite hobby, said Jose Robertson, who served with Swartworth for more than a dozen years and now works with the JAG Corps as a civilian.

“She was a soldier. That’s the most important thing,” he said. “This was a skilled administrator, a skilled people person, but most importantly, she was a soldier.”

As an aside, the AP reported …

On Sept. 11, 2001, Swartworth avoided likely death in the terrorist attack at the Pentagon. She had moved out of her office in the military headquarters building while it was being renovated and was working out of temporary quarters, her father said.

While she was still in the temporary office, the hijacked plane made a direct hit on the area where Swartworth’s Pentagon office had been located. A general who had occupied the office at the time was killed.

 

Get more information about the leadership development seminar, including speakers and times, here.

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