Mon. Feb 6th, 2023

A former American particular operator died early Thursday morning after being wounded days earlier than combating alongside the Ukrainian navy throughout intense fight within the jap frontline metropolis of Bakhmut. 

Daniel Swift, 35, lived principally within the Pacific Northwest and served as a Navy SEAL. The U.S. Navy informed Rolling Stone on Friday that Swift is presently designated as an lively deserter, and has been since March 2019. 

Divorced, he leaves behind 4 kids. Swift represents a climbing variety of U.S. navy veterans which have been killed over the previous yr whereas combating Russian forces regardless of President Biden’s pleas for People to remain away. Information of his demise was first reported by TIME journal.

Adam Thiemann — a former U.S. Military Ranger who beforehand fought in Ukraine with Swift and stayed in touch together with his platoon by way of telephone calls and late-night textual content messages — informed Rolling Stone that in an operation in Bakhmut on the evening of Jan. 14 and into the early morning of Jan. 15, Russian forces launched an anti-personnel rocket-propelled grenade at Swift and two different troopers, knocking them down.

An American intelligence official, who first informed Rolling Stone about Swift’s demise, mentioned he suffered an enormous traumatic mind harm and died early Thursday morning. The official requested to not be named as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk publicly. 

Thiemann wrote on Fb that Ukrainian troops had been doing every little thing they might to maintain Swift alive, however their sources are stretched skinny as they try to accommodate the entire wounded. 

Swift was left in crucial situation with extreme head trauma, per Thiemann, who was not on the operation on the time however briefed by his platoon mates. The opposite two troopers are steady and in restoration. 

Daniel Swift (far left), Grygorii “Greg” Tsekhmistrenko (heart proper) and Adam Thiemann (far proper) in Ukraine.

Courtesy of Adam Thiemann

Contacted by Rolling Stone, Swift’s sister confirmed his demise however declined to make a press release on behalf of the household. 

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For months, intense combating across the small metropolis of Bakhmut within the Donetsk area of Ukraine has resembled a battlefield out of the First World Conflict moderately than the insurgencies of the post-9/11 period. 

Ukrainian troopers struggle from trenches as waves of Russian troopers and employed weapons from the Wagner Group—a nominally non-public navy firm run by Putin confidante Yevgeney Prigozhin—assault over open terrain. This struggle of attrition is uncooked and ugly as gun battles rage for hours on finish amid heavy artillery bombardments. Success is measured in patches of grime and whether or not one cheats demise to see one other day. 

Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who previously served as head of U.S. Military Europe, informed Rolling Stone that Bakhmut has develop into a check of Prigozhin’s affect throughout the Russian navy hierarchy. 

“His PWC Wagner group of mercenaries has been targeted on this space for months, with out a lot success, pushing 1000’s of Russian troops into the ‘meat grinder,’ mentioned Hodges. “His pressure consists of veterans of PWC Wagner however contains a big proportion of that are lately mobilized and poorly-trained, in an try to overwhelm Ukrainian defenders with mass.” 

He added: “The power of Ukrainian troopers to withstand a number of human-wave assaults every day, supported by seemingly countless Russian artillery strikes, is outstanding.  It is usually displaying the Ukrainian normal employees that Ukraine can maintain again Russian assaults, regardless of superior numbers of Russian troops, with what they’ve, though at very excessive price.  That is essential as a result of this may enable Ukraine to construct up new forces for a significant counter-offensive within the Spring, as an alternative of pushing each new soldier or weapon system into the Bahkmut space. Unbelievable resistance on the tactical degree will yield offensive alternative on the operational degree.” 


White Home Nationwide Safety Council spokesman John Kirby mentioned Friday that the U.S. Treasury Division will impose extra sanctions on Wagner Group subsequent week and designate the non-public navy firm as a transnational prison group. 

Earlier than he died in Ukraine, Swift joined the U.S. Navy after a highschool profession of each soccer and wrestling, in response to a self-published memoir on Amazon that Swift wrote in August 2020 underneath what seems to be a pseudonym. The e-book is named: “The Fall of a Man.”

Sarcastically, he arrived at boot camp on June 28, 2005—the day of Operation Crimson Wings in Afghanistan and the topic of the 2013 movie ‘Lone Survivor,’ starring actor Mark Wahlberg. 19 U.S. service members died throughout that operation. 

By the point he was 30 years previous, Swift claims to have deployed 5 instances to fight missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in Yemen in 2018. Swift is embellished with medals just like the Legion of Benefit and a number of private and marketing campaign awards. Later, he served as a police officer for Washington State Patrol and the Medford Police Division in Oregon. 

But, by April 2019, a felony bench warrant had gone out for Swift for the first cost of false imprisonment associated to his divorce. The choose in North County Superior set his bail at $250 thousand. The San Diego County Sherriff’s Division informed Rolling Stone the warrant continues to be lively. A month earlier than the U.S. Navy listed him as an lively deserter. 

Thiemann informed Rolling Stone that when Swift unexpectedly turned up in Irpin, Ukraine, he had no tools of his personal however would nonetheless go on operations. 

“He solely had one uniform…He used duct tape to tape armored plates to his chest and again to go on track till he was given a plate provider,” mentioned Thiemann. “After our SEAL Group Six man left, he led our crew in Crimea, Severodonetsk, and Svyatohirsk, and continued to steer the crew after I left. He was one of many hardest and most tactically proficient males I’ve ever met.” 

Swift served in the identical platoon as one other volunteer soldier who was killed this previous weekend: Canadian citizen Grygorii “Greg” Tsekhmistrenko, who served as their medic. 

“Regardless of having no navy expertise, Greg was among the finest troopers I’ve ever met,” mentioned Thiemann. “Beneath fixed bombardment from the Russians in Hostomel on the primary day of the struggle, with no rifle, no weapon, and little likelihood of survival, he was there — with solely his med bag — able to die for his nation. Regardless of how dangerous or how darkish issues ever received, Greg was constructive.” 

Greg’s father, Vitalii Tsekhmistrenko, informed CBC Information from Kyiv on Monday that his son “needed to construct a home on the water after the struggle.” At Greg’s funeral on Friday in Kyiv, the platoon chief mentioned Greg died attempting to avoid wasting Swift, mentioned Thiemann, who attended the memorial service. 

The lifetime of a combatant affords little time to take inventory of all one has misplaced in martial time. You miss birthday events. You miss marriage ceremony anniversaries. Baseball video games and dance recitals. Your little one’s first steps and the heat of a partner underneath a cool set of sheets. Typically, infantry troopers are left with divorce and debt. Unhealthy reminiscences and one other funeral. After which one other. 


When requested how he was dealing with the lack of mates in each the Afghanistan and Ukraine struggle, Thiemann mentioned: “I simply am bored with it. I would like the struggle to finish as a result of the associated fee will solely enhance, however even worse I wish to rise up for what is true. It’s a actually horrible factor that is happening. It breaks my coronary heart that most individuals won’t ever perceive the depth of their sacrifice and it breaks my coronary heart that they’ve needed to make that sacrifice.” 

Jim LaPorta covers nationwide safety and navy affairs. He’s a former U.S. Marine infantryman and a veteran of the Afghanistan struggle. You may comply with him on Twitter @JimLaPorta 

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