Former Navy SEAL killed fighting in Ukraine

Daniel Swift had deserted the Navy almost four years ago.

January 20, 2023, 5:51 PM

American Daniel Swift, a former Navy SEAL who deserted in 2019, was killed while fighting in Ukraine on Jan. 18, according to U.S. officials.

"The Navy can confirm that a former Sailor, Daniel W. Swift, was killed in Ukraine on Jan. 18, 2023," the Navy said in a statement. "The Navy Absentee Collection and Information Center confirmed that the Sailor was is in an active deserter status since March 11, 2019. We cannot speculate as to why the former Sailor was in Ukraine."

The U.S. State Department also confirmed the death of an American in Ukraine, though it did not identify him.

PHOTO: Daniel Swift, the former US Navy SEAL who was killed in Ukraine on Jan. 18, 2023, is shown in this undated photo.
Daniel Swift, the former US Navy SEAL who was killed in Ukraine on Jan. 18, 2023, is shown in this undated photo.
Adam Thiemann

"We can confirm the recent death of a U.S. citizen fighting in Ukraine," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement provided to ABC News.

"We are in touch with his family and providing all possible consular assistance," it continued. "Out of respect for the privacy of the family during this difficult time, we have nothing further to add."

Swift was a SEAL for most of his 12-year Naval career, that included deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. However, a copy of his Navy service record shows a two-year break in his military service after which he resumed his career as a SEAL.

The Navy says he was placed in deserter status in 2019, presumably after he had left his military assignment with a West Coast-based SEAL team.

The State Department has repeatedly urged Americans from heading to Ukraine to join Ukrainian security forces following Russia's invasion nearly a year ago. But that has not prevented some Americans to make the transit to Ukraine to join units of international fighters fighting alongside Ukrainian troops.

According to the Associated Press, Swift is the sixth American to have died in Ukraine while fighting with Ukrainian military forces.

There are no U.S. military personnel in Ukraine aside from the small number working at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv.

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