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How the Commanding Officer of US Navy SEAL Team 8 Was Lost

How to Join U.S. Navy SEALs
Image: Creative Commons.

A Navy SEAL officer died on Tuesday after suffering serious injuries during a training event over the weekend.

Commander Brian Bourgeois, the commanding officer of SEAL Team 8, sustained grievous injuries while conducting nighttime fast-rope training in Virginia Beach.

A Tragic Death  

According to reports, Bourgeois was participating in a routine nighttime training event with his men when he fell out of the helicopter from a considerable height.

Fast rope operations can take place from between 15 to 100 feet.

Special operators wear thick gloves and slide down a sturdy rope to the ground. Fast roping is a great technique to quickly put a lot of men on the ground. Also, it provides great flexibility to commanders as they can put special operators in places that helicopters can’t land because of obstacles, such as houses or dense foliage.

“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,” Rear Admiral H.W. Howard III, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said after Bourgeois’ death.

1945 understands that SEAL medics on the scene didn’t have real pain management medicine or narcotics on them, which is a standard operating procedure in Naval Special Warfare.

“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,” the top Navy SEAL officer added.

“We are working with SEAL Team 8 to provide every form of support we possibly can to Brian’s family and teammates. This is a great loss to everyone who knew him. He will be greatly missed” Captain Donald G. Wetherbee, the commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 2, under which SEAL Team 8 falls, added.

Bourgeois, aged 43, was a graduate of the Naval Academy and had more than 20 years experience in the Naval Special Warfare community.

The Navy SEALs

As the maritime component of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the SEAL Teams specialize in direct action, strategic reconnaissance, and unconventional warfare.

The SEAL community is composed of eight “regular” and two reserve SEAL teams, which are divided between the West and East coasts.

But there is also the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU)—previously known as SEAL Team 6—which is part of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and specializes in counterterrorism and hostage rescue operations. DEVGRU recruits from the other SEAL teams.

In addition to the above SEAL units, Naval Special Warfare also has SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team 1 and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team 2, which specialize in underwater special operations and operate specialized mini-submarines, and Special Reconnaissance Team 1 and Special Reconnaissance Team 2, which conduct intelligence gathering and operational preparation of the battlefield operations.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.

This piece has been updated since its publication. 

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.



  1. LibertyToad

    December 10, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Very sad. RIP.


    December 10, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Another screw up by the US Navy. Sure, special operations is dangerous business and accidents can happen. Not having the medications available as required is a screw up that can cause lives being lost. The Navy has a long history of screw ups costing ships, planes, money and human lives. The Pentagon needs to clean house in the senior leadership in the Department of the Navy.

  3. Shawn

    December 10, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.“ -J. Elliott

  4. Richard Cici

    December 10, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    We can start with President McGoo and work our way down the chain before we all get killed !

  5. Jon Talus

    December 10, 2021 at 10:45 pm

    Al Hovath apparently has a beef with the Navy. IMHO it’s the wrong time and place to express it. God bless this Seal Team CO who gave everything to protect me.

  6. Monkeyfist

    December 11, 2021 at 6:06 am

    Now is not the time Horvath, A SEAL Commander just lost his life so shut your hole!

  7. Wayne

    December 11, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    so how was he “lost”?

  8. Joe

    December 12, 2021 at 12:37 am

    Men–yes, MEN!–like this are not replaceable…a superior training office should be employed at every step of prep and rehearse…always…always…and that person should NOT be a team member but someone with a clear and non-detached vision AND mission–to protect and make certain ALL details are cleared every time…I know I sound like a rage…but these men are trained for READY-GO! at any moment of their LIVES…and they stand ready for YEARS! They cannot be over-protected or over-pampered (used deliberately) for this gigantic sacrifice of a life time…as this brave, courageous man lived and died. God Rest His Soul!!

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