By Mark E. Vogler
---- — NORTH ANDOVER – The three Republican candidates competing for a shot at a vacant U.S. Senate seat was the main draw for Thursday night’s political forum hosted by the North Andover Republican Town Committee.
But, Sgt. First Class David Swarbrick, a Lawrence firefighter who has served as a medic in the U.S. Army Reserve, got the most attention and loudest applause from the close to 200 people who packed the China Blossom for the committee’s fourth annual Spring Fling.
Swarbrick, a town native and North Andover High School graduate who recently returned from Afghanistan, was honored for receiving a Purple Heart and Bronze Star during his overseas service. After regaining consciousness from an explosion, he was credited with saving the lives of two soldiers while putting his own life at risk.
“His service is exemplary and his story is compelling,” Karin Rhoton, a former School Committee member and member of the North Andover Republican Town Committee said.
Two members of the Essex County legislative delegation agreed, and presented special citations honoring Swarbrick.
State Rep James Lyons, R-Andover, presented the soldier with a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives “in recognition of his dedicated, heroic and courageous military service during the most recent deployment in Afghanistan.” It was signed by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, state Rep. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) and Rep. Lyons.
State Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr, R-Gloucester, presented Swarbrick with a similar commendation from the Senate, which was signed by Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth; Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, and Tarr.