VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Family, friends, shipmates, and fellow Frogmen gathered to honor the life and service of retired Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate (SEAL) Rudolph “Rudy” Boesch at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek Fort-Story base theater, Dec. 3.
“Rudy was not just our senior enlisted leader for 26 years, he was SEAL Team Two,” said retired Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire, Acting Director of National Intelligence and previous SEAL Team Two Commanding Officer.
“Rudy set the standard of conduct for military bearing, for physical excellence and for dedication to mission, to team, to family and to the country that he loved. Rudy didn’t just set the standard for all of us. Rudy was the standard.”
Boesch joined the U.S. Merchant Marine in 1944 at the age of 17, and one year later enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he spent the next 45 years on active duty. He immediately volunteered for Underwater Demolition Team training where his stellar performance led to his selection as one of the first U.S. Navy SEALs. Boesch retired in 1990 after serving two tours in Vietnam with SEAL Team Two and serving as Senior Enlisted Leader at United States Special Operations Command.
Throughout the ceremony close friends and family recalled special moments and funny anecdotes that celebrated and honored Rudy’s life and legacy.
“Master Chief pinned [my] Trident on my chest and I thought ‘this is awesome,’” said retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Steven Gonzalez, the officiant of the memorial.
“I cherished that Trident my entire career, only wearing it on special occasions but today, that same Trident continues Rudy’s legacy. I pinned that very same Trident upon the chest of my nephew who is stationed at SEAL Team Two and is currently deployed overseas.”
Rudy’s passion for the SEAL teams was contagious.
“There are few people in our community, the Navy or maybe even the world where one word defines who or what they are,” said Gonzalez. “For Rudy, that word is service.”
Rudy’s daughters spoke lovingly of their father and his time in the Navy. “He lived and breathed the military,” said Rudy’s daughter, Barbara Schlatter. “He didn’t want to retire, the Navy forced him to retire at age 62, but it never stopped him from being active.”
After retirement, Boesch spent most of his time giving back to the community. He served on the board of directors at a nonprofit organization that assists Navy SEALs and their families; he volunteered with a local police force; and he was an avid member of the Red Cross, always making time to help the brotherhood he never truly left.
In 2000, Boesch became famous across the U.S. after competing on the first season of Survivor where he finished in third place. Several years later he became the oldest contestant on the show when he was brought back for Survivor: All Stars. Despite this newfound fame, Boesch’s commitment to Naval Special Warfare never wavered.
“Rudy was truly a member of the greatest generation,” said Maguire. “He was an example to all of our generations that followed especially the SEALs and Sailors he mentored in his 45 years of service to our nation.”
NSWC’s mission is to provide maritime special operations forces to conduct full-spectrum operations, unilaterally or with partners, to support national objectives. NSW’s greatest competitive advantage is its people, and it provides the nation’s premiere maritime special operators and combat support personnel in support of U.S. Special Operations Command’s global mission.
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