SEAL Team Commander Killed in Training, Tribute Planned at Army-Navy Football Game

December 8, 2021Matt White
Brian Bourgeois, Seal Team Commander Died

Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois, 43, the commanding officer of SEAL Team 8 and former Naval Academy football player, died in Norfolk Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. US Navy photo.

Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois, 43, the commanding officer of SEAL Team 8 and former Naval Academy football player, died in Norfolk Tuesday, Dec. 7, as a result of injuries sustained during training, likely during a fast-roping exercise, three days earlier.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bourgeois family — and we will ensure our community remains in support of and in relationship with Brian’s family and his children, for life,” said Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command. “We will miss his charismatic leadership and faithful stewardship of our standard. His legacy carries on in teammates he served with, led, and mentored.” 

“Brian was as tough as they come, an outstanding leader, and a committed father, husband and friend,” said Capt. Donald G. Wetherbee, commodore, Naval Special Warfare Group 2. “This is a great loss to everyone who knew him.” 

Navy Seal Commander Brian Bourgeois Killed
A family photo of Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois, right. Bourgeois died Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, from injuries sustained in a training accident over the weekend. Photo from a fundraising post on

Few details were available on Bourgeois’ SEAL career, but the US Naval Academy’s football team, where he was a three-year letterman, announced plans to honor Bourgeois this Saturday in its annual rivalry game with the US Military Academy. The team will take the field carrying the SEAL Team 8 flag alongside the American, Navy, and Marine Corps flags and a No. 13 home blue jersey with SEAL Team 8 patches will be kept on the sideline, according to a Naval Academy press release. Two players will also wear SEAL Team 8 patches on their uniforms. Bourgeois gave the patches to a Navy coach this past year while visiting the team.

Fast-roping is a common but risky technique of deploying from a helicopter, in which a team slides down a thick rope from as high as 100 feet, though usually much lower. Injuries are not uncommon, though deaths are. Bourgeois graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2001. He entered training to be a SEAL in August of 2004, graduating the following April, according to a Navy biography. According to a fundraising page from the All In All the Time Foundation, Bourgeois participated in operations in Libya, against Iran, and in Operation Enduring Freedom. His decorations include a Bronze Star with Valor. 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct date of death in a photo caption.

Read Next: What It Means To Be a Navy SEAL, According to 5 SEALs

Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, reportedly named Ju Ae, review the honor guard during their visit to the navy headquarter in North Korea
North Korea Launches Missile Toward Sea After US Flies Bomber During Drills

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved