A former US Navy Seal, who deserted his military post in 2019, was killed Thursday while fighting in Ukraine, friends and officials said.
Daniel Swift died from wounds he sustained last week while fighting in Dnipro, a city that Russian forces recently targeted in a brutal missile attack, an official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Swift’s death marks the sixth known American casualty on Ukraine’s front lines since the Russian invasion began nearly a year ago.
Adam Thiemann — a former US Army Ranger who had kept in contact with Swift after previously fighting alongside him in Ukraine — told Rolling Stone that Swift was wounded on the night of Jan. 14.
Thiemann said Russian soldiers launched an anti-personnel rocket-propelled grenade at Swift and two other soldiers.
Though his counterparts are in recovery, Swift was left in critical condition with severe head trauma. He died Thursday morning from the massive brain injury, Rolling Stone said.
Swift showed up to fight in Ukraine with no equipment of his own other than his military smarts and enthusiasm, Thiemann said.
“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.”
A US Navy spokesperson confirmed that Swift died in Ukraine, but said he was not fighting on behalf of his former military branch.
“We cannot speculate as to why the former Sailor was in Ukraine,” the Navy said.
The State Department also confirmed an American’s death in Ukraine but did not identify the deceased as Swift.
The former 1st class petty officer deserted his post in San Diego, California, in March 2019. Swift joined the force in 2005 and was assigned to a SEAL unit in 2017. He voluntarily left in 2015, but rejoined the next year and returned to his SEAL until his desertion.
After he went AWOL, the Navy Naval Special Warfare Command stripped him of his Trident pin.
At least five other Americans are known to have been killed on the frontlines in Ukraine. US officials have repeatedly discouraged Americans from fighting in Europe despite sending weapons and military vehicles to Ukraine.