Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs

Last week, former U.S. Navy SEAL Daniel Swift, 35, died of wounds sustained during combat in Bakhmut, Ukraine. The Navy confirmed Swift has been in active deserter status since March 11, 2019. He achieved the rank of special warfare operator first class.

Navy SEALs are among the most elite Special Operations units worldwide and carry out some of the nation’s most dangerous and secretive missions. Daniel Swift was from Oregon and enlisted in the Navy in 2005. He held a Legion of Merit award among his commendations and campaign medals for service in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Strike Source spoke with LT Ken Rhee, a Korean Navy SEAL Platoon Commander who served with Swift on a specialized team in Ukraine.

“I was in Ukraine since the beginning of the 2022 Russian Invasion and was leading a multinational special operations team when Dan arrived in country. He joined our unit, brought some of his SEAL-issued cold weather gear, and you could tell he came properly prepared for war.”

Did you ever discuss your motivations for fighting the Russians with Dan?

“We all knew we came to volunteer to fight for freedom and help defend the Ukrainians from the invading Russian force. Thus, we didn’t discuss that topic.”

What did you know about his life in America?

“He talked about his SEAL career as an SDV operator – especially when we met other SEALs. He was a SEAL, got out and became a police officer, and then joined the SEAL teams again. His last occupation was teaching English in Thailand before joining the war effort in Ukraine. Everyone liked Dan. He was humble, quiet, and a competent operator. He was tactically proficient and the operator that the other guys would trust and depend on in combat.”

Do you have any experiences with him that stand out to you?

“I led a maritime operation in Southern Ukraine, and two SEALs were on my team. One of them was Dan, and he was the machine gunner. We took rubber boats in for our insertion, and when we approached the enemy coast – the other SEAL and I made sure the boats landed on the beach before disembarking to avoid getting wet and soaking our gear in salt water. Dan just jumped in the water like a true frogman, waist deep, and walked to the coast with his MK46 machine gun at the ready. He was soaked, and it didn’t bother him one bit – even though we had a five-day walk ahead of us in arduous terrain.

There’s a lot of news about him being a deserter and having family issues. We didn’t know anything, but we can all say for sure – he was a good guy everyone trusted, and it was an honor to work with him. We will remember him for his good deeds.”

Five other Americans have died in Ukraine since the war began.

According to a book written by Swift, “The Fall of a Man,” he leaves behind four children. Amazon users are currently writing reviews on his page, saying things like, “Til Valhalla brother.”