AWOL Navy SEAL Confirmed Dead on Battlefield
The U.S. Navy has confirmed former SEAL Daniel Swift, who was listed as absent without leave, was killed on Wednesday while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces against Russian invaders, as first reported by Time magazine.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement acknowledging an American was killed in action there, but did not identify that person by name.
“We can confirm the recent death of a U.S. citizen fighting in Ukraine,” the statement read. “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.”
Adding a bit of intrigue to the situation is the fact that Swift has been, according to the Navy, in “an active deserter status since March 11, 2019.”
How long the Navy Special Warfare Operator First Class had been in Ukraine and why he was fighting there remains a mystery for the time being.
American Daniel Swift, a former Navy SEAL, has been killed in battle against the Russian Army in Bakhmut.
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) January 20, 2023
Swift reportedly died from wounds suffered as a result of Russian strikes in the eastern front city of Bakhmut, an American intelligence official told Rolling Stone.
Adam Thiemann, a former U.S. Army Ranger who fought alongside Swift in Ukraine and kept in contact with him, told Rolling Stone the former Navy SEAL suffered severe head trauma and was in critical condition before his death.
Thiemann had previously taken to Facebook to explain that Ukrainian troops were doing everything possible to save Swift’s life, according to Rolling Stone, but that resources were stretched thin among all the wounded fighters.
Swift appeared to have something of a checkered past that included not only an impressive record of military service, but also stints as a police officer in the Pacific Northwest.
He would later run afoul of law enforcement.
Time magazine reported Swift’s records include an Iraq Campaign Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and a Legion of Merit.
“He was one of the hardest and most tactically proficient men I have ever met,” Thiemann told Rolling Stone.
Swift served as a police officer for the Washington State Patrol and the Medford Police Department in Oregon, Rolling Stone reported.
A month before he was declared a deserter by the Navy, a felony bench warrant was issued for Swift on the primary charge of false imprisonment related to his divorce.
Swift’s classification as an “active deserter” caused him to lose his status as a Navy SEAL.
The Sea, Air and Land — SEAL — teams are the Navy’s primary special operations force and a component of the Naval Special Warfare Command.
The main function of SEAL teams are to conduct small-unit special operations in maritime, jungle, urban, arctic, mountain and desert environments.
SEAL teams typically take part in capturing or killing high-level targets or gathering intelligence behind enemy lines.
On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014.
Since then, tens of thousands of people have died on both sides of the conflict, and the invasion precipitated what is Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.
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