Navy: Member of SEAL Team 8 dies after training incident

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Navy SEAL commander has died from injuries he got during a training accident in Virginia.

Naval Special Warfare Command said Wednesday that Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois, 43, was injured Saturday when he fell while fast-roping down from a helicopter.

The cause of his fall is under investigation and a Navy official said it was not clear if the rope separated from the aircraft. Fast roping is often used by SEALs to quickly deploy when a helicopter is unable to land, according to the Navy.

Bourgeois, who was the commanding officer of SEAL Team 8, died Monday at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital in Norfolk.

“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.”

The SEAL Team 8 executive officer has temporarily assumed command.

“We are working with SEAL Team 8 to provide every form of support we possibly can to Brian’s family and teammates,” said Capt. Donald G. Wetherbee, commodore, Naval Special Warfare Group 2.

He added, “This is a great loss to everyone who knew him. He will be greatly missed.”

WAVY-TV reported that SEAL Team 8 is based in Virginia Beach and has a geographic concentration in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Mediterranean.

Bourgeois received his commission from the United States Naval Academy in May 2001. His many awards and decorations over the past two decades included a Bronze Star with valor, according to a Navy statement. The Bronze Star is awarded to members of the Armed Forces for heroic or meritorious achievement or service in a combat zone.

Bourgeois played on the Navy Academy’s football team for four years and earned three varsity letters as a safety, according to the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.

The team plans to honor Bourgeois during the annual Army-Navy game in northern New Jersey on Saturday. The team will run out with a SEAL Team 8 flag along with the traditional American, Navy and Marine Corps flags, the Capital Gazette reported. Senior wide receiver Michael Salisbury and sophomore wide receiver Jayden Umbarger also will wear SEAL Team 8 patches on their uniforms.

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