On September 21, 2010, just ten days before his expected return to the U.S., Navy SEAL Lt. Brendan Looney gave his life for our great nation. Today marks seven years since his loss, though his legacy is still very much alive. It lives on in those he held close, the countless individuals who he inspired, and in all who strive to carry on his ethos, "Be strong. Be accountable. Never complain."
Brendan played lacrosse at the United States Naval Academy where he would go on to become an All-American in the sport. In 2004, his senior year, he led the team to the NCAA National Championship Game. It was clear that the hard-nosed defensive midfielder was a role model to his fellow teammates and Navy service members.
What no one could have predicted however, is how he would inspire a new generation of athletes and warfighters—more than a decade later.
One middle school-aged athlete, John Ramirez, watched Brendan and his team as they made their run for the NCAA title. He admired Brendan’s dedication and work ethic from afar and tried to mimic it in his own efforts. “I idolized the passion that team played with,” he recalls now, more than ten years later. “Throughout that incredible season, I distinctly remember attending and watching on television Brendan playing with a level of tenacity and grit that my father pointed out to me was the way a defender should play the game. It became evident that the physicality and unselfish nature of the way he played the game was the way I wanted to play.” John took notes.
John's own lacrosse career took him from middle school through high school, and ultimately to a division one college career where he would transmit the same leadership and tenacity he had watched play out on the fields of USNA. Like Brendan, John would go on to become an All-American athlete.
But he and Brendan’s paths would cross yet again.
Following college, John was fueled by a strong sense of service and leadership that ultimately compelled him to join the US Navy. During his training, his Navy leadership assigned him Brendan Looney as the fallen hero he would honor and remember as he pushed himself through rigorous workouts and relentless exercises. John was taken back to his initial introduction to Brendan as the star athlete and was honored to channel his character and resilience yet again—this time as a fellow service member. “It was an honor,” John recalls.
“I had already looked up to him as an athlete when I was in middle school. It seemed as if his same attributes on the field that made him a successful player and teammate were just exemplified on a larger scale once he went into the service. His simple words of ‘Be strong. Be accountable. Never complain.’ are traits I strive to live out every day.”
Today marks 2,555 days without Brendan Looney. His legacy of character, resilience, and grit will live on for many years to come, as those who are inspired by his story continue to exemplify his values and make an impact on others. We will never forget.