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: I'm Retiring From The Military — Help!

In this installment of “Dear Jack,” Marine veteran Jack Mandaville helps a career service member figure out life after retirement.

March 31, 2023Jack Mandaville
navy chaplains suicide prevention
US Navy Deploys More Chaplains For Suicide Prevention

Growing mental health distress in the ranks carries such grave implications that the U.S. chief of n...

March 31, 2023Associated Press
ukraine lessons learned
Opinion & Essay
Nolan Peterson: Lessons From Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

After living in and reporting from Ukraine the last nine years, conflict journalist Nolan Peterson h...

March 30, 2023Nolan Peterson
black hawk crash kentucky
9 Killed In Army Black Hawk Helicopter Crash In Kentucky

Nondice Thurman, a spokesperson for Fort Campbell, said Thursday morning that the deaths happened the previous night in southwestern Kentucky during a routine training mission.

March 30, 2023Associated Press
richard stayskal act military medical malpractice
DOD Denies Most Stayskal Act Malpractice Claims

Master Sgt. Richard Stayskal was diagnosed with lung cancer long after military doctors missed a tum...

March 29, 2023Maggie BenZvi
ukrainian wounded soldiers
‘On Tour In Hell’: Wounded Ukrainian Soldiers Evacuated

With bandaged heads and splinted limbs, the wounded soldiers are stretchered into the waiting medica...

March 27, 2023Associated Press
US oil mission
US Launches Airstrikes in Syria After Drone Kills US Worker

While it’s not the first time the U.S. and Iran have traded airstrikes in Syria, the attack and the ...

March 24, 2023Associated Press
The Gift jason dunham
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved