George McSwain was born in 1940 and grew up in Montrose, California. He entered the Naval Aviation Cadet program on February 13, 1964, and he was commissioned and designated a Naval Aviator in 1965. McSwain trained in the A-4 Skyhawk with Attack Squadron 125 at NAS Lemoore, California, before joining Attack Squadron 164. He began flying combat missions with VA-164 off the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) in June 1966, and he was forced to eject over North Vietnam on July 28, 1966. Lt McSwain was immediately captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. He spent the next 2,411 in captivity before being released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. After repatriation, McSwain served as an instructor pilot with VT-21 at NAS Kingsville, Texas. His next assignment was with Attack Squadron 174, and then again with VT-21 before being medically retired from the Navy on March 31, 1981.
His 2nd Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from 16 to 27 June 1969. His captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.