“Incredibly Influential”: Fallen Commander of the Navy SEAL is remembered for his heroic leadership and dedication to family
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Uncommon value is a common virtue in the U.S. Navy, and those who knew Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois says he embodied this rare bravery in his life – and in his death.
âBrian was an incredibly influential midshipman,â said Wesley Huey, spokesperson for the US Naval Academy Alumni Association.
The 43-year-old US Navy SEAL 8 team commander died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on Tuesday after being injured in a training accident. Bourgeois’ 20-year career in the navy includes a dozen accolades, including a Bronze Star.
âHe was a bridge builder. The kind of leader who brought people together, united them to achieve a common goal, âHuey said.
âThe guy who does the hard work of building relationships and making people understand that they are all important – whatever role they play on the team is important,â Huey said.
Initial reports from the Navy show the tragedy occurred on Saturday during fast rope training. Quick hitch is a difficult and dangerous maneuver used by Navy SEALS to dismount from helicopters when the aircraft cannot land.
âHe was leading from the front,â Huey said.
“He was doing what he asked of his men, and he was doing it with exactly the same risks,” he continued.
Bourgeois graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2001, starting his career just months before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Huey said that between his graduation from the Naval Academy and his death, Bourgeois was steeped in training, war and combat.
âThey were deployed or operational, doing what the nation called them to do, almost from the time they were sworn in,â Huey said of the Naval Academy Class of 2001.
The name of Bourgeois will be added to the memorial room of the Naval Academy where the institution honors those who have been lost in combat or during operations.
âThis is one of the most hallowed places in the Naval Academy, and unfortunately we’ll have to add Brian’s name to that list,â Huey said.
While at the Naval Academy, Bourgeois was a member of the Navy football team for four years, donning the No.13 jersey. The SEAL 8 team and the current football team with Honor Bourgeois during their December 11 match against the army. Navy Football Brotherhood Inc. is one of the many organizations that raise funds for Bourgeois’ wife and five children. At the time of publication, the organization has raised over $ 178,000 for the family.
Those who knew Bourgeois said he was a talented leader and heroic fighter, but also a man who put his family first amid the demands and deployments that come with being a Navy SEAL.
âYou see people who, in one way or another, are able to find the time to do the things that are important. To live their values, âsaid Huey.
Bourgeois’ influence will not be forgotten by SEAL Team 8. His team will continue to carry on the legacy of protecting and serving the country their commander loved.
âHe was the best. The best of the kind of leader that we try to produce in the Naval Academy, and ultimately throughout their careers. We are very proud of him. Very proud of himself and his family, âsaid Huey.
BELOW: Senator Bill Cassidy delivers a speech in the Senate honoring the deposed Commander of the Navy SEAL, a native of Louisiana