Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For friend of SEAL killed in Benghazi, Tampa Bay Frogman Swim is a tribute

Bouke Noordzij, left, is swimming Sunday in honor of his friend and former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was killed in Libya.

Courtesy of Bouke Noordzij

Bouke Noordzij, left, is swimming Sunday in honor of his friend and former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was killed in Libya.

The September assault on a U.S. consulate in Libya was a terrifying incident with international repercussions.

For Bouke Noordzij, it was a personal tragedy.

His lifelong friend, Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, was among four killed in the Benghazi attack.

"I was devastated," said Noordzij, who met Doherty in the fifth grade and maintained a brotherly friendship for decades.

He wanted to do something to honor his friend.

On Sunday, the 43-year-old Boston man will join nearly 150 swimmers from around the country who will hit the chilly waters at Gandy Beach, then swim 3.1 miles to Picnic Island on the Tampa side of the bay.

The annual Tampa Bay Frogman Swim honors the memory of fallen Navy SEALS.

"I'm a little nervous," said the high school math teacher, a father of four. "But I know if Glen was around he would be here doing it with me. He was that kind of guy . . . always ready to go."

The open-water swim attracts triathletes, lifeguards and a variety of active and former military personnel. Each swimmer pledges to raise $1,000 for the Navy SEAL Foundation, a charity that helps the families of SEALS wounded or killed in action.

Doherty, 42, had joined the SEALs relatively late in life.

He was a ski bum, river guide and self-claimed "high priest" of "The Cult of Recreationalism," according an obituary in the Daily Beast two days after Doherty's death on Sept. 11, 2012.

Noordzij remembers the night Doherty told him he was joining the Navy. They were at a bar in Boston. Doherty said he wanted to "buckle down and do something big."

"I knew right then and there that he was going to make it," Noordzij said. "He was in good shape, but he had mental toughness, the kind that enables someone to endure pain, cold, sleep deprivation. He was a natural."

The two men spent most of their formative years in Winchester, Mass., where Doherty was the ringleader of what Noordzij decribes as a "band of misfits."

"He was a total free spirit," Noordzij said. "He wasn't your typical military type. He had a very strong personality."

The "misfits'' spent a lot of time at the home of Doherty's mother, Barbara, who was always willing to open her pantry.

"We loved Momma B.," Noordzij said. "She treated us all like we were her own children."

After high school, Noordzij, Doherty and the others drifted apart but would get together on holidays and often schedule wilderness hiking and camping trips.

Doherty served in various combat zones in the Middle East. He spent nine years on active duty before returning to the region as a military contractor, working for the State Department.

On Sept. 11, 2012, militants attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and computer specialist Sean Smith. Doherty and another former SEAL, Tyrone Woods, died a few hours later during a fierce firefight a few miles away as militants laid siege to their compound.

News of Doherty's death traveled fast among the close circle of friends.

"Life goes by so fast," Noordzij said.

Back home in Boston, Noordzij wondered how he could pay tribute to Doherty's memory when he heard about the Frogman. Now in its fourth year, the swim has quickly gained a national reputation as a challenging and rewarding event.

Noordzij sent an email to his family and friends and asked for their support.

Over the years, participants in the Frogman Swim have had many great stories to share, none more compelling than Noordzij's.

"This will be good therapy," he said. "With every stroke I take, I will be thinking about all those good times we had. This swim is for Glen."

Terry Tomalin, who has been an organizer and participant in the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim, can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8808.

Tampa Bay

Frogman Swim

. When: 8 a.m. Sunday

. Where: Gandy Beach

to Picnic Island

. Why: Benefits

the Navy Seal Foundation

For more information, go

to tampabayfrogman.com.

For friend of SEAL killed in Benghazi, Tampa Bay Frogman Swim is a tribute 01/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 11:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  2. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Those wide-open, end-to-end, shoot-at-will games are a lot of fun to watch, especially when those shots are going in the net. But if the players had their druthers, they would rather have a more controlled pace, one with which they can dictate the action.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  4. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  5. Chemical industry insider now shapes EPA policy

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    This is the Dow chemical plant near Freeport, Texas. Before the 2016 election, Dow had been in talks with the EPA to phase out the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is blamed for disabilities in children. Dow is no longer willing to compromise.