Departed this earth on Sunday, November 11, 2012. Dr. Swanson was born on April 29, 1918 in Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota.
A retired Colonel in the United States Air Force, he served in the 388th Bomb Group during WWII
as the pilot of a B-17, charged with the first air raids on Nazi Germany. Without air support from fighter planes, 1st Lieutenant Swanson's bomber was shot down and he was taken as a POW at Stalag Luft III for three years.
After the war, Captain Swanson served at Los Alamos as a nuclear engineer and later was assigned to the Pentagon operating under the House Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Before retiring from the Air Force as a Colonel he commanded the headquarters of the National Range Division at Patrick AFB
, near what would become his home for the remainder of his life, Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Following his retirement from the USAF, Dr. Swanson worked at the Kennedy Space Center as a managing engineer for both unmanned and manned space flights including the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. By the end of his life, Dr. Swanson had received hundreds of recognitions and awards from presidents, departments of government, and national organizations.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother (George and Anna) and first wife (Virginia) with whom he has two surviving sons (John and Tim). He is also survived by his wife (P. Anne Swanson) and their children (Michelle and Christopher). He was the grandfather of eleven children and the great grandfather of one.
A Memorial Service will be held to celebrate Ralph's life on Thursday, December 6, 2012, at 1 PM, at Wylie-Baxley Funeral Home Chapel, Merritt Island, FL, with full Military Honors. Burial will be in Florida National Cemetery Bushnell, FL.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be sent to Wounded Warriors Project in order to honor Dr. Col. Swanson's life of service to the nation.