A Goodbye Letter

September 21, 2012

A moving tribute/essay by my Red Circle coauthor Brandon Webb appeared today on the New York Times blog, “At War.” The piece is entitled “A Letter to My Friend Glen Doherty.”

Brandon and Glen were, as you know from my last post, SEAL Team 3 comrades and sniper partners throughout SEAL sniper school. They were also best friends. Glen was killed in Libya on Sept. 12 while defending the American Mission in Benghazi.

* * *

Glen,

I still can’t believe you punched out early on me, but glad to hear from the guys that you fought like a hero — no surprise there.

You should know, your efforts resulted in the rescue of over 20 Department of State personnel. They are alive today because of yours and Ty’s heroic action.

I know you hate funerals as much as I do but, the service in Winchester was humbling and inspiring. The people of Boston are amazing. I had to choke back the tears as me and the boys rolled through town, and thousands of people lined the streets to honor a hero and our friend and teammate. Seeing American citizens united around a hero, if only for a brief moment, restored my faith in humanity and that there’s other things more important in life than killing each other.

Your family is and was amazing. Their poise, patience and the dignity they displayed was incredible to witness. Your mom, Barbara, stood by stoically for hours to ensure she greeted everyone who came to pay their respects. She was an inspiration to everyone who watched. Seeing your dad, his sadness and how proud he was of you, made me give him a big hug, and reminded me to work harder at patching things up with my own father.

Greg delivered one of the best talks I’ve ever heard under the most difficult of situations. What an amazing brother; I hope to get to know him better. His speech made me reflect on my own life choices and how important our relationship with friends and family are. I’m going to work harder at embracing my friends and family the way you always did.

Katie gave such an awesome toast at the wake with all the Bub lessons to live by, I smirked secretly to myself knowing that I’ve heard them all before and will never forget. “Drive it like it’s stolen!” and “Kids don’t need store-bought toys, get them outdoors!” and all the rest.

Your nephews are amazing and so well-behaved. Great parents of course. F.Y.I., I told them I’d take them flying when they come out west. They were beaming when I described all the crazy flying adventures me and their uncle went on. I told them how you and I would fly with my own kids and take turns letting them sit on our laps to get a few minutes at the controls. I’ll do it up right and let them each have a go at the controls.

Sean has been steadfast in his support role and has handled everything thrown at him. Helping him this last week really showed me why he was such a close friend of yours. He’s solid, and I look forward to his friendship for years to come. You chose well having him execute your will, he’s solid.

We are all dedicated, as you explicitly indicated to us all, to throw you the biggest eff-ing party we can, and to celebrate your life as well as our own. Done deal; Sean and I are on it.

Most of SEAL Team 3 GOLF platoon showed up in Boston. It was great to see how guys like Tommy B. just made stuff happen, no matter what was needed. Things just got handled like men of action handle them, no questions asked and no instructions needed — just get it done in true SEAL fashion.

One by one the Tridents were firmly pounded into to the mahogany as the guys paid their respect. Mike and I handed the plank to your mom, choked back tears, and kissed her on the cheek. We both told her how much you’ll be missed by us all.

Afterwards, the Team Guys, Elf, Steve, Sean and others tipped a few back in your honor. In good Irish fashion we drank whiskey from Sean’s “What Jesus Wouldn’t Do” flask, hugged each other like brothers and said goodbye, each in our own way.

We are planning the yearly surf trip to Baja in your memory. We share Steve Jobs’s philosophy on religion and tolerance, but if you can arrange it, please talk to whomever and fire up a good south swell for me and the boys.

My kids will miss their Uncle Glen. I told them it’s O.K. to cry (we all had a good one together) and to be sad but not for too long. You wouldn’t want that. They will grow older, and like the rest of us, and be better human beings for having known you.

You definitely lived up to the words of Hunter S. Thompson:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!”

When I skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke myself I’ll expect to see your smiling face handing me a cold beer.

See you on the other side, brother. You are missed by many.

— B.W.

Photo: Glen (R) and Brandon (L) at a book-signing in Times Square, New York City, in August 2012, just a few weeks before Glen was killed.

2 Comments

  1. Wow…how powerful. One of the few posts that has ever made me cry

    Reply
  2. What a beautiful, emotional, (do SEALS use these two words together) tribute to a HERO.

    God Bless You All.

    Reply

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  1. Journal of John David Mann » Blog Archive » A SEAL Says Goodbye … Again - [...] few months ago I posted an open letter, reprinted from the New York Times, by my friend and Red…

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