Fall of a Former SEAL

According to US military officials, a former US Navy SEAL, Daniel W. Swift, died on Wednesday, January 18th, 2023, due to wounds suffered in combat operations in Ukraine. He was 35 years old. In a message to Rolling Stone, the Navy stated that Swift had been classified as an active deserter and has been carried in that status since March 2019. An active deserter is a servicemember who is absent without leave (AWOL) and has no intention of returning to duty.

Swift (far left) is shown here in Ukraine with Grygorii “Greg” Tsekhmistrenko (center right, holding cat) and Adam Theimann (far right). Photo courtesy of Adam Theimann via YouTube and The CRUX.

Swift’s death was first reported by Time Magazine, which stated that he died as the result of injuries sustained while serving with a Ukrainian unit that came under heavy attack from Russian forces. They did not know how long he had been in Ukraine or his motivation for fighting there. It is possible that Swift joined the International Legion of Defense of Ukraine (ILDU) under an assumed identity to hide his deserter status.

Regarding the former Special Warfare Operator, the Navy released a statement saying simply, “We cannot speculate as to why the former sailor was in Ukraine.” US State Department officials initially confirmed to the press that a US citizen had died fighting in Ukraine, but they would not make public the details of his death. A Department spokesman said, “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.” 

According to Time, the native Oregonian had enlisted in the Navy in 2005 and was assigned to a Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Cold Weather Detachment in Alaska in 2007. This was followed by duty with two west coast-based special warfare units between the summer of 2007 and 2014. The Navy did not specify which Teams Swift was assigned to, but we know the odd-numbered Teams are assigned to the west coast, so that narrows it down a bit. His service records show an unexplained break in service from the start of 2014 to the end of 2015. They also show that he was stripped of his Trident.