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Russell W. Swisshelm


Russell W. Swisshelm passed away at Suncoast Hospice on Saturday, November 13th, of Agent Orange poisoning. He proudly served his country for thirty years in the United States Marine Corps in a number of capacities including serving in the Vietnam War from 1969-1971.

Mr. Swisshelm enjoyed shooting and was so talented that he became a Master Marksman. As such, he trained many Marines to become proficient marksmen. He was such a talented instructor that he was assigned to train US Army Green Berets and other Special Operations troops from other branches of the military.

Mr. Swisshelm joined the Marine Corps at age 17. He enjoyed traveling to foreign countries and seeing the world. His military career allowed him to visit and experience many countries including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and more. No matter how many countries he visited, Mr. Swisshelm was a true American patriot and never found a country that he loved more than the United States of America. After 30 years of proud service and sacrifice, he retired in 1986 as a Master Gunnery Sergeant (E-9, MGySgt) which is the highest rank attainable for an enlisted Marine.

The year before Mr. Swisshelm retired, he received a letter from General P. X. Kelley, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant that read as follows:

Dear Master Gunnery Sergeant Swisshelm,

         The Marine Corps has been your profession for these last 30 years, and you have served with distinction. Many aspire to be a Master Gunnery Sergeant but those who achieve it are few, and they must clearly demonstrate the exceptional leadership qualities we have come to expect of our senior Marines. You have reason to be proud of your most successful career.

       As a teacher of young Marines, a source of wise counsel, and as an example of those soldierly virtues we so admire, you have made a mark on the Corps that will remain long after you have left our active ranks. There are many young Marines you have influenced who will carry on in the same fine tradition that has always characterized the United States Marine Corps. 

MGySgt Swisshelm is survived by his beloved and devoted wife, Dorothy Smith Swisshelm, who was by his side when he left this world. He is also survived by his son, Russell R. Swisshelm and wife Lisa of North Carolina; his son, Ronald Swisshelm, of Florida; and daughter, Joyce L. Palm, of Port Orange, Florida. Mr. Swisshelm is preceded in death by his daughter, Dori Palm. Mr. Swisshelm is survived by grandchildren, Chad Rubero of Pennsylvania; April Swisshelm Pouliot and husband Larry of Alaska; Holly, Eric and Jonathan Palm of Florida; Kayla Lund of Tennessee; and Ryan, Erin, and Jordan Miller of North Carolina. Mr. Swisshelm is also survived by eighteen great-grandchildren.

Russell W. Swisshelm will be greatly missed by his family and friends. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.” Irish Proverb

Friends will be received at the Veterans Care Funeral Home at

830 N. Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida
Wednesday, November 17 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 18 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Pastor George Francey will conduct services at 1:00 PM on Thursday.
The burial will take place at a later date at Sarasota National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers the family would like donations to be sent to the Wounded Warriors.

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