In an exclusive report from Time, a United States Navy official revealed an American Navy SEAL, Navy Special Warfare Operator First Class Daniel Swift, was killed this week while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces during a Russian offensive in Eastern Ukraine. He reportedly died as a result of injuries sustained while his unit was under attack by Russian forces. Time reports that Swift has had active deserter status since March 11, 2019, citing the Navy Absentee Collection and Information Centers. It appears the last several years Swift had been a reservist and a law enforcement officer, making his AWOL status likely from the reserves, not the SEALs. Swift enlisted in the Navy 2005 and had received an Iraq Campaign Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and a GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) Expeditionary Medal.
Daniel Swift, 35, reportedly lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest. He leaves behind four children and was reportedly divorced.
Adam Thiemann, a former U.S Army Ranger, told Rolling Stone that during an operation in Bakhmut on January 14, from the night until the next morning on the 15th, Russian forces had launched anti-personnel RPGs at Swift and two other soldiers, knocking them down — reportedly leaving Swift with a massive traumatic brain injury according to an anonymous American intelligence official who spoke to RS. Thiemann wrote on Facebook that Ukrainian troops did everything they could to keep Swift alive, but their resources were stretched thin due to the large number of injured. The two other soldiers are reportedly stable and recovering. Thiemann told RS that when Swift unexpectedly turned up in Irpin, Ukraine, he had no equipment of his own but would still go on operations. “He only had one uniform…He used duct tape to tape armored plates to his chest and back to go on target until he was given a plate carrier,” said Thiemann. “After our SEAL Team Six guy left, he led our team in Crimea, Severodonetsk, and Svyatohirsk, and continued to lead the team after I left. He was one of the hardest and most tactically proficient men I have ever met.”
Swift’s sister confirmed his death but declined to make a statement on behalf of the family, reports RS. According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Swift is wanted on a felony warrant stemming from a false imprisonment charge related to his divorce. His bail was set at $250 thousand by a judge in April 2019.
According to a close source of Swift who I spoke to, he had a difficult time readjusting to being back in the states, allegedly had PTSD from his time deployed, and “didn’t know anything besides war.”
He had a legacy of a high school career of football and wrestling, according to a self-published memoir on Amazon that Swift wrote in August 2020 under an apparent pseudonym reports RS. The book is titled “The Fall of a Man.” He reportedly arrived at boot camp on June 28th, 2005, the same day of Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in which 19 U.S servicemembers died. By the time he was 30 he was deployed five times to combat missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in Yemen in 2018. He reportedly later served as a police officer for Washington State Patrol and the Medford Police Department in Oregon.
Bakhmut has been a hotspot for fighting in Ukraine recently, with the settlement of Soledar, north of the city, being captured by Russian-aligned forces recently after months of intense fighting. It appears as well that Russian forces may be attempting an encirclement of the highly contested city as they push west in the south of the raion, underneath Bakhmut. It has been recently confirmed that Russian forces are in control of Pidhorodne, east of Bakhmut, and that they have advanced to the west of Klishchiivka, which is southwest of Bakhmut. However, fighting continues in all areas around the city.
The U.S State Department has not confirmed the identity, but said in a statement that an American was killed in action. “We can confirm the recent death of a U.S. citizen fighting in Ukraine… We are in touch with his family and providing all possible consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of the family during this difficult time, we have nothing further to add.” The Biden administration has in the past publicly assured and adamantly stated that US troops will not fight in Ukraine, and has actively discouraged Americans from traveling to the Eastern European country. At least 5 Americans have died there since the Russo-Ukrainian War began in February of 2022.
Swift served in the same platoon as another volunteer soldier who was killed this past weekend: Canadian citizen Grygorii “Greg” Tsekhmistrenko, who served as their medic. “Despite having no military experience, Greg was one of the best soldiers I have ever met,” said Thiemann reports RS. “Under constant bombardment from the Russians in Hostomel on the first day of the war, with no rifle, no weapon, and little chance of survival, he was there — with only his med bag — ready to die for his country. No matter how bad or how dark things ever got, Greg was positive.”
When asked how he was coping with the loss of friends in both the Afghanistan and Ukraine war, Thiemann said: “I just am tired of it. I want the war to end because the cost will only increase, but even worse I want to stand up for what is right. It is a really terrible thing that is going on. It breaks my heart that most people will never understand the depth of their sacrifice and it breaks my heart that they’ve had to make that sacrifice.”