The Union Democrat

Member of SEAL Team 8 dies after training incident

- By DAVE RESS The Virginian-pilot

NORFOLK, Va. — Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois, commanding officer of SEAL Team 8, died Tuesday of injuries suffered during training this weekend, Naval Special Warfare Command said.

Bourgeois, 43, died at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital.

While the accident is still under investigat­ion, initial indication­s are that occurred during a fast-rope training session in Virginia Beach. This training involves sliding down a rope from a helicopter. While it is quicker than rappelling, the controlled descent down rope favored by rock-climbers, it is considered to be more dangerous.

“We are working with SEAL Team 8 to provide every form of support we possibly can to Brian’s family and teammates,” said Capt. Donald G. Wetherbee, commodore, Naval Special Warfare Group 2.

“An incident like this weighs heavily on us all. Brian was as tough as they come, an outstandin­g leader, and a committed father, husband and friend,” Wetherbee said.

“Brian was one of our very best leaders, who possessed all the attributes that make our force effective. We will miss his charismati­c leadership and faithful stewardshi­p of our standard,” said Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command.

SEAL Team 8 s executive officer is temporaril­y assuming command.

Bourgeois graduated in 2001 from the United States Naval Academy, where he played football. The Annapolis CapitalGaz­ette reported that the Navy football team will honor Bourgeois during Saturday’s Army-navy game in several ways. The team will run out with a SEAL Team 8 flag along with the traditiona­l American, Navy and Marine Corps flags. There will be a No. 13 home blue jersey adorned with two SEAL Team 8 patches placed prominentl­y on the Navy sideline, and two players will wear SEAL Team 8 patches on their uniforms. The patches were given to Navy wide receivers coach Mick Yokitis, a 2006 Naval Academy graduate, by Bourgeois earlier this year.

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