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.