Dan Swearingen has dedicated his career, in both law enforcement and military, and his time after retirement in serving veterans and their families
Dan Swearingen is proud to be a United States Army veteran, and he is proud of his service as a law enforcement officer.
He is also proud to be a Prineville resident.
“If I would have known what I do now about Prineville, I would have moved here long ago,” said Swearingen. “I love Prineville.”
He became a local citizen in 2006, and initially moved to Prineville because of his and his wife’s commute to work. His wife drove from Bend to Prineville to her job, then from Redmond when they made their home there. Eventually, they decided to move to Prineville, and have been here ever since.
Swearingen continues to serve and be involved in his community, even though he is retired from the military and his 30-year position with Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. He is the Chapter President for the Prineville Band of Brothers, and he also leads the local Honor Guard, conducting funeral services for deceased Veterans, which is a role he feels passionate about. His love for law enforcement and service to others began at an early age.
Joining the United States Army
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a police officer,” he noted of his calling in law enforcement.
When he graduated, however, he didn’t want to go to college. He joined the Army in 1974 out of Bend, and he immediately went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He was a squad leader and was promoted to an E-2 upon graduating. From there, he attended Advanced Individual Training at Military Police School at Fort Gordon, GA, where he was promoted to E-3, Private First Class, upon graduation.
His first duty station was at Fort Riley, Kansas, where he worked in corrections with the 207th MP Company for one year.
“The post was short on regular MPs—what they called a line unit MP for working the road, so I requested a transfer and I transferred across the street to the 890th MP Company.”
He explained that when working in corrections, it involved military individuals who had been incarcerated, and were in pre-trial confinement. He completed a 90-day on-the-job training to obtain his secondary MOS at of 95 Bravo. Within six months he was assigned as a Senior Partner and acted as a field training officer for new MPs coming to the post.
Service in law enforcement and Army Reserves
Swearingen served his post as a 95 Bravo MP for 20 months and left the military after fulfilling his three-year requirement. He moved back to Bend in 1977 and applied at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. He became a reserve deputy in January 1978, and in April 1980, he was hired as a full-time deputy. In June of the same year, he was laid off due to a levy budget failure. In July, he went to work for the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office out of the Dalles, Oregon, on their traffic team, patrolling the highway over Mt Hood.
In October 1980, he attended the Oregon Police Academy, in Monmouth, and graduated in December. In January 1981, he returned to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office on Forest Patrol. He had a long career with Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, to include assignments in Patrol, Traffic/Speed Enforcement, DUII Enforcement, Fatal Accident Reconstruction and Investigation, Forest Patrol, and Search and Rescue and retired in April of 2010. Swearingen also oversaw the Honor Guard for the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and served in this capacity for approximately eight years.
Swearingen went back in the military to serve in the Army reserves in January of 1992. He maintained his deputy position and served his country in the Army Reserves simultaneously. Swearingen emphasized that by federal law, his department was obligated to allow his military time while he was employed.
“The Golf War had kicked off, and I missed the military,” Swearingen explained. “For some reason, something triggered, and I wanted to go back in the military. I got ahold of an Army Reserve recruiter, looking for an MP unit, because that is what I knew.”
His recruiter indicated that there was a drill sergeant unit in Bend. He interviewed for the position and was accepted, and in January 1992 he re-enlisted back into the Army Reserves. He completed Drill Sergeant school in February 1994 in Fort Lewis, Washington, where he was “hatted” and remained with the unit in Bend until the entire battalion was reorganized. He transferred to Eugene in 1996 and continued to serve as a drill sergeant.
Swearingen explained that the position entails non-commissioned officers who are responsible for training the new recruits to become soldiers. The training involves basic combat skills, which is currently referred to as BCT, or basic combat training.
“Everybody gets that, that joins the military,” he said of BCT. “It gets your attention. They, the Drill Sergeants, are there for a reason, to teach you these skills that hopefully you pay attention to, so if you ever go to combat, that you learned those skills and paid attention and survive.”
In late 2000, early 2001, he again attended drill sergeant school to become an instructor as a DSL (Drill Sergeant Leader). It involved learning to teach basic training to other Sergeants who were becoming drill sergeants. During this time, he attended a Master Fitness Trainer’s Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. He certified as a master fitness instructor, which was a way for him to get into the DSL Course. The Master Fitness program was being taught in Phase 3 of Drill Sergeant School. Normally, at that time, you would certify as a Drill Sergeant in three phases. Phase 1 was individual drill/stationary drill instruction, Phase 2 was Squad drill/By the number’s instruction, and Phase 3 was Platoon Drill/Step by step instruction. But, for him to certify as a DSL he had to complete the certification course in reverse order, completing both the Drill Sergeant course and Drill Sergeant Leaders Course without a ‘no-go’, referring to it as “True Blue”.
“It was enjoyable, and I became a senior instructor at Drill Sergeant School.”
After being promoted to E-8 in March of 2007, he took a position as the First Sergeant of Alpha Company back in Eugene, the company he had originally transferred into from Bend, and served as the First Sergeant until his retirement from the military.
He earned some awards for his expertise in his role as a drill sergeant in 1997, including Battalion Drill Sergeant of the Year, Brigade Drill Sergeant of the Year, and Division Drill Sergeant of the Year for the 104th Division out of Vancouver Barracks in Washington state.
In 2000, he competed in the Army-wide competition for Drill Sergeant of the Year, in Fort Monroe, Virginia.
“I didn’t win, but it was a good experience, and it was a lot of fun.”
In early 2008, Swearingen got a call from a battle buddy, whom he had attended drill sergeant school with. He was calling from Iraq and relayed to Swearingen that he was involved with an ARA (Army Reserves Affairs Mission). They had an opening coming up, and his buddy made a referral for Swearingen, because of his experience.
Swearingen explained that when training as a drill sergeant, he didn’t get to go to combat himself. He explained that Soldiers wear their unit patch on their left sleeve, and “you won’t have a combat patch (SSI-FWTS) on your right sleeve unless you have been in a combat zone.”
Swearingen felt that he needed to go, to make his training and time in the military mean something, and here was the opportunity to go to Iraq, so he decided to go. He was there from April 2008 to November 2008.
He spent time in Kuwait, Joint Base Balad/Al Asad Airbase, and COB Adder/Talil Iraq. At COB Adder, he set up an office for the Army Reserve Affairs. It was a dual mission in a sense because they had National Guard, as well as Army Reserves plugged into active-duty Army Units. His mission included educating active-duty Army on the role the National Guard played and what role the Army Reserve played.
“It was good experience.”
He elaborated that the area he was in was a third-world country, and he said that it made him appreciate what we have in the United States. While there he was able to interact with some of the locals when they were allowed on base to set up their bazars, and on occasion outside the perimeter at a local bazar. He also visited a local historical landmark outside of the base, the Ziggurat of Ur.
Swearengin was able to travel to Baghdad and tour the Presidential Palace, see Flintstone Village, the village Saddam Hussein had built for his grandchildren, other religious sites, and the spot where SFC Paul Ray Smith had earned the Medal of Honor.
He was able to work with the MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) on base and provided country dance lessons every Thursday night. He set up a rodeo themed country and western dance night, which drew over 500 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Air Force personnel, as well as local contractors. Friends from back home sent excess t shirts, jackets, baseball caps, and ropes from the Columbia River Circuit finals for the event. They found excess lumber in the scrap pile at the demo dump and built a corral fence, lined it with string and made banners advertising Wrangler, Resistol and Pendleton and Coors. The floor was covered with sawdust, just like an old-fashioned barn dance. He talked to an engineer company, and they made a roping steer out of a 55-gallon barrel, a 5 gallon propane bottle for the head, steel tubing for the horns, and they painted it black and white. A roping competition was held for the jackets. They raffled off an autographed guitar signed by Toby Keith, who he had met while stationed in Balad. Just like any rodeo, it started with the singing of the National Anthem, followed by line dance lessons.
Service after retirement
He retired from the Sheriff’s Office in April 2010, and he served in the Army until his mandatory retirement date in January 2015, after serving 26 years. In November 2012, he joined the Prineville Band of Brothers. The local chapter currently has 990 members.
The same year, September 2012, the Band of Brothers Honor Guard was established in Prineville to honor those veterans that had passed. He immediately joined and when the leader, Clyde Peacock, moved away from Prineville, he stepped up to lead the group.
“Our primary function of the Honor Guard is to honor those veterans who have been in the military and supported the United States, augmenting the military honors portion,” Swearingen said.
He added that their Honor Guard group provides the service of adding a military branch flag line, ceremonial rifle salute for each veteran, regardless of rank, and to play Taps. They received training in the proper handling and folding of the flag and can make the presentation to family, only if the military is unable to provide personnel to be present.
“We give each veteran (family) a custom-made flag box, as well as the three shell casings that are engraved with ‘duty’, ‘honor’, and ‘country’, and a framed certificate that explains the 13 folds of the American Flag. We also have a bagpiper that plays ‘Amazing Grace.”‘ We have recently included in our services, for a Navy Veteran, the ringing of a bell eight times at the end of the service to signify their ‘end of watch’.
The Band of Brothers Honor Guard has travelled throughout the state providing assistance in Military Honors to local Veterans, to include, Astoria, Tillamook, Roseburg National Cemetery, Rouge River, Heppner, Mitchell, Twickenham, Maupin, Lapine, Sunriver, Madras and Fort Rock.
He also pointed out that they have been part of the Honor Guard services at Willamette National Cemetery numerous times, for local veterans who have been laid to rest there, recently conducting the entire service at the request of the family for a Band of Brothers Honor Guard member that had passed.
Swearingen concluded that the Band of Brothers provides comradery and a place for veterans to go every Thursday morning. He added that there are a lot of stories told and and everyone has a good time.
Any Veteran that has been honorably discharged is welcome to join the group. They meet every Thursday morning at Ron’s Comfort Food Café at Meadow Lake Golf Course. Breakfast is served from 7am to 8:15 a.m., followed by the short meeting at 8:30 a.m.
“We try to put a lot of humor into it so it’s fun for them”.
Honor Graduate, Basic Training, Charlie Co, 2nd Bn, 2 BDE; Ft Leonard Wood, MO., 1974
Honor Graduate, US Army Military Police School, USAMPS; Ft. Gordon, GA., 1974
Commandants List, Drill Sergeant School, 104th DIV (IT) Drill Sergeant School; Ft. Lewis, WA., 1994
Battalion Retention NCO of the Year, 1-414-1-104th DIV (IT); Eugene, OR., 1997
Brigade Drill Sergeant of the Year 1-414-1-104th DIV (IT); Vancouver, WA., 1997
Division Drill Sergeant of the Year, 104th DIV (IT); Vancouver, WA., 1997
Battalion Retention NCO of the Year, 1-414-1-104th DIV (IT); Eugene, OR., 1998
Graduate Drill Sergeants Leaders Course, 1-414-1-104th DIV (IT); Ft Jackson, SC., 2000
TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year Competitor, TRADOC; Ft Jackson, SC., Ft. Monroe, VA., 2001
Commandants List Air Assault School Graduate, Warrior Training Center, Ft Benning, GA., Camp Rilea, OR., 2009
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