AWOL Navy SEAL Killed in Battle in Ukraine: Exclusive
A A former U.S. Navy officer was killed this week while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces during Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, a Navy spokesman told TIME.
Missing Navy SEAL 1st Class Daniel W. Swift died on January 18 after being wounded in a Russian attack.
The Navy confirmed that the Swift was “on active desertion status as of March 11, 2019,” but did not provide further details. It is not yet known how long Swift was in Ukraine and why he was fighting there.
Swift, an Oregon native, first enlisted in 2005, according to published service records obtained by TIME. The records do not detail any of his deployments or the SEAL teams he may have served with. They list posts with Navy Special Warfare Cold Weather Detachment in Kodiak, Ak. 2007 and served separately from July 2007 to January 2014 with two “Special Forces Unit(s) based in the West Coast.” As of August 2017, Swift was part of the “West Coast Special Forces Unit(s)”.
Special operations forces such as the Navy carry out dangerous and covert missions around the world. Swift’s record includes several combat-related awards, including the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Legion of Merit. But the records do not provide additional information regarding Swift’s 2019 classification as an “active deserter,” which caused him to lose his Navy SEAL status.
Since Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine last February, the Biden administration has insisted that U.S. troops are not fighting in Ukraine and has urged Americans not to go there to fight. But thousands of people from dozens of countries went to Ukraine to join the war against Russia.
Read more: The dispute over tanks is the latest battle over Western support for Ukraine.
The US State Department did not confirm Swift’s identity on Friday, but acknowledged in a statement that one American had been killed in action.
“We can confirm the recent death of a US citizen fighting in Ukraine,” the statement said. “We are in contact with his family and are providing all consular assistance. Out of respect for the family’s privacy at this difficult time, we have nothing further to say.
Read more: Biden strengthens the US involvement in the war, he calls on Ukrainian troops to prepare weapons for the US.
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