In February 1942, Swing, with the rank of brigadier general, was appointed artillery commander for the 82nd Infantry Division, which was converted into the army's first airborne division that summer. Quickly becoming a disciple of the airborne concept, Swing, promoted to major general, was named commander of the newly created 11th Airborne Division in December 1942. While training the division, Swing headed a special board that recommended numerous changes in the use of airborne troops after their disappointing performance in operations in 1942 and 1943. In maneuvers at the end of 1943, he demonstrated with his 11th Airborne Division how airborne forces could overwhelm an enemy, ending any doubts in the army hierarchy about the use of airborne troops in division-size units.
Swing took his division to the Southwest Pacific Theater in May 1944. In the fall, it was committed, as light infantry, to the struggle for Leyte Island in the Philippines. In 1945, Swing's men, fighting both as light infantry and airborne troops, participated in the bitter battle for Manila, helped clear southern Luzon Island of Japanese, and assisted in mopping-up operations in northern Luzon. In August 1945, Swing's division deployed to Japan as the vanguard of the Allied occupation force there.
Swing remained with the division until the end of 1947. He then served successively as commander of the I Corps, commandant of the Army War College, and commander of the Sixth Army. Retiring from the army in February 1954 as a lieutenant general, he headed the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization from 1954 to 1962. Swing died in San Francisco, California, on 9 December 1984.
John Kennedy Ohl
Blair, Clay. Ridgway's Paratroopers: The American Airborne in World War II. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.; Devlin, Gerard M. Paratrooper! New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979.; Flanagan, Edward M. The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division, 1943–1946. Washington, DC: Infantry Journal Press, 1948.; Smith, Robert Ross. United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific: Triumph in the Philippines. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1963.