Larry M. Swails, 77, of Lockridge, Iowa, passed away March 20th, 2020 at his home in Woodbridge, Virginia with his wife Sandra L. (McElwee) Swails, by his side.
Larry was born on August 23rd, 1942 in Burlington, Iowa. He grew up in the Burlington, Wapello and New London areas until the family moved to Jefferson County in 1952, where as a young man he helped on the family farm. He attended Clay Hill, a one room school house, until the 8th grade. Larry then went onto graduate from Fairfield High School in June 1960. Following graduation, and just before his eighteenth birthday, Larry joined the US Army on July 29th, 1960.
After completing his basic and advanced military training, Larry returned home to marry “Sandy”, his high school sweetheart, on March 18th, 1961; a marriage of everlasting love and happiness for 59 years. Larry and Sandy spent the next nineteen years in the US Army, traveling the world having lived in Japan, Germany and multiple states in the US. It was during this period of “Army Life” that they were blessed with the birth of their 3 sons.
Larry was known as a man of service to others, and this is reflected in his Army career choice of the Military Police Corps and as reflected in the Corps Moto: “Of The Troops, For The Troops”. He served, in the US and overseas, as a Military Policeman, Traffic Accident Investigator, Squad Leader, Post Patrol Supervisor and the assignment that he was most proud of, that of a MP Sentry Dog Handler.
As a sentry dog handler, he became a school trained instructor and his last MP K-9 assignment was that of the NCO In Charge of the Army’s Sentry Dog School on Okinawa. In June 1966, after Larry, Sandy, and sons had completed a three-year tour in Japan, the Army assigned Larry to an eighteen-month tour on Okinawa. In this unaccompanied assignment, along with his Sentry Dog “Spook” he established, on Tori Station, Okinawa, the US Army’s first overseas sentry dog handler training school: the USARPAC Sentry Dog School. This school prepared MP handlers and their dogs for their combat tour in Vietnam.
During the period of 1969 – 1980, Larry applied for and was accepted to become a Military Special Agent with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and was subsequently appointed as a Warrant Officer Special Agent from the NCO ranks. Larry served as an Army military CID Agent and/or Supervisor, in Vietnam during the war from May 1969-May 1970, South Korea, Germany, as well as Army Posts in the US. His last assignment was as a CID Command Senior Warrant Officer and Special Agent, responsible for the development of new US Army CID procedures, policies, regulations, and the field inspections of CID units worldwide. He somehow managed to complete his Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement at the University of Maryland in 1977, then went on to complete his Master of Science in Personnel Management and Supervision at the University of Michigan in 1979.
On October 31, 1980, Larry retired at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Three (CW3) and was award the Meritorious Service Medal, First Oakleaf Cluster, for his twenty years of faithful and honorable service to the US Army.
However, this was not the end of Larry’s dedication and service to the Department Of Defense (DoD) and the US Army CID. From 1981 – 1983, Larry performed duties as a Protective Service Agent, with the Protective Services Division of the Command Security Office, for the Defense Logistics Agency, of the DoD.
In 1984, Larry was hired as a Federal Special Agent of the newly established Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), of the DoD. Between May, 1987– July 1993, Larry held the position of Assistant Special Agent in Charge, DCIS Washington Field Office.
Larry left DCIS to return to the Army CID, as Federal Special Agent, and after being selected to become the first Director, of the Army CID’s newly formed Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU) in May of 1995. MPFU was a special investigative unit, which was established to combat major procurement fraud in the US Army contracting and procurement systems.
In 1999, nearly four years after establishing the Army’s MPFU, a unit that exists some twenty-one years later in the same basic format that Larry devised, he retired from Federal Service and was awarded the Department Of The Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award. Larry M. Swails served his country as a Solider and Federal Agent for over Thirty-Eight years.
He will forever be remembered by his family and friends as a great storyteller. From stories about his time in Vietnam, to the investigations he was a part of in Germany, his high-speed chases in Japan, his favorite dog “Spook”, to stories about his great grandkids, who he adored. Once he got that sparkle in his eyes, he could make any story he told interesting. Larry loved to travel and find the best spots for beautiful scenery pictures. A passion he passed along to his granddaughter. He loved boating with his family at their lake house in Lake Gaston, VA, driving back roads through mountains, when the leaves changed colors in the fall, anything that had to do with being outdoors. In the last years of his life, his great grandkids brought him so much joy. Larry was very proud of the fact he, along with his oldest son, were able to teach his great grandson how to safely shoot a gun. He loved driving the neighborhood kids around on the golf cart for any adventure his great granddaughter had planned for the day. Which often included ‘bear hunts’ in his back yard. Something he would do with his granddaughter 25 years ago. He had such a great imagination and truly loved his family.
Army Solider, Military Policeman, MP K-9 Dog Handler, Military Criminal Investigator, Federal Special Agent, Husband, Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather, Larry M. Swails will truly be missed. Larry also took and received great support from Sandy and his sons and was fortified in his efforts, by the pride they showed in being part of his life and the occupations he had chosen for himself. He left behind a great legacy that his wife, sons, and grandchildren are proud to be a part of. They all knew he was very proud to have served his country.
He is survived by his wife, Sandra (Sandy); his sons, Tracy Swails of South Hill, VA, Tony (Lisa Kershner) Swails of Lakeridge, VA and Todd Swails; grandchild, Destini (Darryl Jenkins Jr.) Swails; and great grandchildren; D’Andre Swails and Arianna Jenkins, all of Woodbridge, VA; a brother Lynn (Gail) Swails of Richmond, VA and a sister, Margaret (Steven Gardner) Lessenger of Golden, CO; He is also survived by a niece, nephews and many friends across the United States. He is preceded in death by Paul Swails and Audrey (James) Robbins, his parents. In lieu of flowers, the family would like memorial contributions made to Prince William County Police Department. Team Prince William Officer Assistance Fund which can be sent it to P.O. Box 7402 Woodbridge, VA 22195. or the Patriots Riders (https://www.virginiapatriotguard.org/), both of which are escorts to Arlington National Cemetery.(ADDED: Funeral Home is: https://mountcastle.net/obituary/larry-m-swails/ and POC for the Swails Family, is Larry’s Granddaughter: Destini Swails @ email@example.com