Make us your home page

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 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


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

  1. Gov. Scott in Washington as health care debate intensifies


    Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday began a daylong series of meetings in Washington on health care, saying he wants to ensure Florida gets its share of Medicaid funding while praising parts of the Senate GOP’s Obamacare replacement.

  2. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo in Parkshore Plaza on the market for $1.5 million. {Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
  3. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor's race has been making headlines for nearly two months as Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker have been making speeches, pressing the flesh at fundraisers and gathering their ground forces for an election battle that has already broken fundraising records.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  4. Tampa moves to pause permits for 5G wireless equipment to assess impact of new Florida law


    To business groups, the bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed Friday will clear the way for superfast 5G wireless communications and give Florida an edge in attracting high-tech companies.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other local officials have worried that a new state law aimed at facilitating the installation of 5G wireless technology could clutter scenic corridors like Tampa's Riverwalk.
  5. Trump takes another swipe at CNN after resignations over retracted Russia story


    NEW YORK — President Donald Trump used the resignations of three CNN journalists involved in a retracted Russia-related story to resume his attack on the network's credibility Tuesday.

    Anthony Scaramucci, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. [Associated Press]