AWOL Navy SEAL Killed Fighting In Ukraine: Exclusive

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A former American Navy SEAL was killed this week during Russia’s assault on eastern Ukraine while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, a Navy official tells TIME.

Daniel Swift, a Navy Special Warfare Operator First Class who had gone AWOL, died Jan. 18 after suffering injuries with a unit under attack by Russia, the official said.

The Navy confirmed that Swift has been in “an active deserter status since March 11, 2019,” according to his service records obtained by TIME.

Swift, who is from Oregon, first enlisted in 2005. He received an Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, according to his releasable service records. The records don’t detail any of Swift’s deployments or SEAL teams he may have served on, but list an assignment with a Naval Special Warfare “Cold Weather Detachment” out of Kodiak, Ak. in 2007 and separate stints with two “West Coast-based Special Warfare Unit(s)” from July 2007 to January 2014. Swift’s most recent assignment began in August 2017 and was with a “West Coast Special Warfare Unit.”

Read More: A Dispute Over Tanks Is the Latest Fight Over Western Support For Ukraine.

The U.S. State Department wouldn’t confirm Swift’s 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,” the statement says. “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.”

Since Russia first invaded Ukraine last February, the Biden Administration has insisted that U.S. troops will not fight in Ukraine and encouraged Americans not to travel to fight there.

Read More: Biden Deepens U.S. Involvement in War By Inviting Ukrainian Troops to U.S. For Weapons Training.

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Write to W.J. Hennigan at william.hennigan@time.com.



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