Navy SEAL who died from training injuries identified as commanding officer

Military

43-year-old Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois died on Dec. 7 at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. (Courtesy U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The commanding officer of SEAL Team 8 who died following an incident during training has been identified as 43-year-old Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois.

Bourgeois died Tuesday at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital from injuries he sustained during training on Saturday in Virginia Beach.

Officials are still working to investigate the incident, however, initial findings show the tragedy occurred during a fast-rope training evolution.

Bourgeois leaves behind his wife and five children.

“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. “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. His legacy carries on in teammates he served with, led, and mentored.”

U.S. and Panamanian service members conduct fast rope insertion extraction system training during Exercise Mercury in Panama, Jan. 29, 2021. (photo: Air Force Staff Sgt. Elijaih Tiggs)

The SEAL Team 8 executive officer has temporarily assumed command.

“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. This is a great loss to everyone who knew him. He will be greatly missed,” said Capt. Donald G. Wetherbee, commodore, Naval Special Warfare Group 2.

SEAL Team 8 is part of Naval Special Warfare Group Two based out of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. They have a geographic responsibility of the Mediterranean and southern Europe. 

Bourgeois received his commission from the United States Naval Academy in May 2001 and served the Navy and Naval Special Warfare community for over 20 years.

During his time at the Naval Academy, he was a four-year member of the Navy football team and earned three varsity letters. In his honor, the team will run out with a SEAL Team 8 flag along with the traditional American, Navy and Marine Corps flags at their game on Saturday.

There will be a #13 home blue jersey adorned with two SEAL Team 8 patches placed prominently on the Navy sideline and senior wide receiver Michael Salisbury and sophomore wide receiver Jayden Umbarger will wear SEAL Team 8 patches on their uniform. The patches were given to Navy wide receivers coach Mick Yokitis, a 2006 Naval Academy graduate, by Bourgeois earlier this year.

His full list of awards and decorations include:

  • Bronze Star (w/Combat “V”)
  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2)
  • Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2)
  • Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2)
  • Combat Action Ribbon
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Iraq Campaign Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
  • Rifle Expert
  • Pistol Expert

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