Command Master Chief Rudy Boesch, an old school, hard-charging Navy SEAL who came to prominence after his participation in the first season of “Survivor,” died last week.

Master Chief Boesch died aged 91 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He died peacefully in hospice in Virginia Beach, VA.

The legendary Navy SEAL served in the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community for almost half-a-century. Master Chief Boesch joined the Navy during the later phases of World War II. To his disappointment, the war ended before he graduated from his training. In the 1950s, he volunteered and was selected for service in the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), the forefathers of the SEAL Teams.

In 1962, he transferred to SEAL Team TWO (ST-2), which alongside SEAL Team ONE (ST-1) were the first SEAL Teams, and became a plankowner of the unit. Master Chief Boesch completed two tours of duty in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star. With close to 50 combat operations in Vietnam, Master Chief Boesch was key in setting the operational and physical training standards in the newly established ST-2 – which would eventually spread throughout the other SEAL Teams.  As a platoon chief his platoons’ missions in southeast Asia ranged from Direct Action (DA) raids to Special Reconnaissance (SR) in the Mekong Delta to Foreign Internal Defence (FID) – training and advising partner forces.

Master Chief Boesch in Vietnam (U.S. Navy)

Later in his career, Master Chief Boesch became the first senior enlisted adviser in the newly founded U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). He retired from active duty in 1990, departing from his beloved SEAL community as the Bullfrog – the title given to the SEAL with most continuous service.

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Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL who came to prominence in the aftermath of Operation Red Wings, made the following statement in social media: “Thank you for the many years of service to our great country, the SEAL Team, and for everything you did after, Master Chief. As long as there is a trident to wear may the memory of your service always be part of the standard to the ones who carry the weight of it. RIP Master Chief Boesch. We will raise a glass to your memory tonight.”

The quiet professionalism of Master Chief Boesch highlights the quality of the SEAL community. Despite disciplinary issues that have rightly questioned the professionalism of the SEAL Teams, it can’t be emphasized enough that a few bad apples, howsoever visible and loud, don’t represent the whole SEAL community.