My Role Model: Brendan Looney, US Navy SEAL, KIA September 21st, 2010
What Legacy Means to Me: “Brendan Looney changed the world; not because of how he died, but because of how he lived. To me, legacy means living a full, fearless, purposeful life; to find opportunities, both big and small, to continue the service of those we have lost. They will be with us for as long as we keep their names on our lips and their service and sacrifice in our hearts.”
I never considered serving in the military, mainly because I thought doing so required an amount of strength, discipline, and courage that I just didn’t have. It was not until I moved to Hawaii, taught in a school with military families, met many friends and my now husband serving in the military, that I came to understand that the military was made up of ordinary people just like me.
The only thing that set them apart is their extraordinary “If Not Me, Then Who…” mindset. Each of these became my role models as I watched them navigate frequent separations and moves, combat, and loss.
The role model who had the greatest impact on my life and desire to give back was Brendan Looney. I met him while he and my husband Rob were in BUDS and I would see their “behind the scenes” reality when I would come to visit on the weekends. I realized it was the small, routine, daily acts which made him not only a quiet and fearless leader in the military, but also a loyal friend, thoughtful and caring brother and son, and loving husband. He was laser focused on what mattered to him, didn’t make excuses, and never complained. He just did and inspired everyone around him to do more. Each time I talked to Rob during BUDS, he would say “I’m just trying to keep up with Brendan”. I think most who knew him were, too.
Losing several of these friends and role models to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused me to consider the legacy I would leave behind much earlier than I would have otherwise. Their big, full, fearless, incredible lives inspired me to find ways to continue their service, and Travis Manion Foundation has provided some of my most meaningful days and ways to continue their legacy, through Team Travis & Brendan, the 9/11 Heroes Run, and Operation Legacy service projects.
About the Author: Heather Sarver got involved with TMF after meeting the Manion family when Brendan died in 2010, and he and Travis Manion were buried together at Arlington. She started volunteering for the San Diego 9/11 Heroes Run and ran the Marine Corps Marathon with Team Travis and Brendan in 2011. She volunteered with the San Diego run until moving to Texas to become the Race Director of the Dallas 9/11 Heroes Run Race starting in 2015. Heather has organized a TMF Service Project, making blankets for children of fallen heroes in November of 2016. She is an attorney for a financial services company. She and Rob Sarver were married in 2014 after 8 years of long distance dating and are expecting their first baby in August–just in time for baby’s first 9/11 Heroes Run in September!