The year was 1985(ish), in Panama City, Florida.  In those days, Panama City was a backwater in the Florida panhandle.  It was suburban in some parts, but pretty much rural in most, once you were off the beach.  It was all pine forests, mosquitoes, and hot, sticky air.

It was a time when “latchkey kids” often came home to empty, parent-less houses, and rode their bikes all over town after school, as long as they were back by the time the streetlights came on.  Kids’ bicycles in those days had one gear, long handlebars (often with tassels), banana style seats, and were not particularly maneuverable in off-road riding.

My sister, who was about 12-years-old at the time, was riding a bike just like the one described above — alone — one day after school.  She was making her way down a county road, back toward our house from who-knows-where.  At some point, she tangled a pant leg in the chain, or hit a rock, or simply fell over — my parents were never sure — and hit her head, rendering her unconscious on the side of the road, with a concussion.

Shortly thereafter, thankfully, a car came along, driven by a teenage boy who had not been in possession of his driver’s license for more than a year or two, at most.  The boy saw the bike on the side of the road, and the crumpled pile of girl beside it, and instead of driving on, he stopped.  The boy scooped up my sister, and brought her to my parents’ house.

You see, that teenage boy knew my parents, and once he figured out that it was my sister on the side of the road, after stopping, he knew just where to take her.  It was a very lucky day for us that that teenage boy was driving down that particular road, on that particular day, and found our sister/daughter laying there unconscious.

That teenage boy was Will Bruhmuller.  More formally, his name was William N. Bruhmuller, IV.  His dad was named William N. “Bill” Bruhmuller, III.  Bill was a retired Navy SEAL at that time, and he lived pretty close to our family, which was also headed by a former Navy SEAL.  Bill Bruhmuller clearly raised his son right, as the teenaged Will could have simply driven right by the wrecked bicycle, whether he noticed it or not.

Bill Bruhmuller, III, aged 81, died on September 23, 2016, and the Navy SEAL community lost one of its giants.

Bill was a plank owner (original member) of SEAL Team TWO, and next to Rudy Boesch, was one of its earliest senior enlisted men.  He was a pillar of the early SEAL Teams, and a legend within the community.  His loss will be felt greatly within the community, especially among the more senior members of the group of former SEALs out there.  They looked up to “Bru,” and consider themselves lucky enough to have served with him, if they had the chance.