Brendan Looney: A life of service before self

(BPT) - The Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of our nation. It’s an opportunity to celebrate patriotism with fireworks and parades.

But it can also be an opportunity to show your appreciation for the brave servicemen and -women who protect our freedoms. The Purple Heart Foundation is sharing Brendan Looney’s story to remember the brave sacrifice he made for this country.

Brendan Looney was the oldest of six siblings, always looking out for his younger brothers and sisters. Family was extremely important to him. A natural leader, his ability to lead translated over to his passion while growing up, sports. Football and baseball were Brendan’s favorites, but after seeing his younger brothers play lacrosse, he decided to take it up during his college years at the U. S. Naval Academy. Brendan played on Navy’s nationally ranked team, and they went to the NCAA National Championship.

Brendan went to Navy because he wanted to play D1 football. To do that he had to get a waiver due to color blindness. He started at Naval Academy Prep School and continued to the Academy. In the fall of 2001 Brendan had just begun his sophomore year at the Naval Academy, when the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11 pushed him to want and be more. Brendan graduated from the Naval Academy and was commissioned as an Ensign. He began his naval career as an intelligence officer. Brendan’s first deployment was to Korea and then Iraq. Upon his return he wanted to make a change, and went on to join the Navy SEALS.

Brendan earned a spot to attend Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal training, BUD/S. BUD/S is considered the most demanding and grueling military training. Each training class starts with close to 300 men, and on average 10 men make it all the way through to graduation. Brendan graduated from BUD/S in June 2008 and was bestowed with the highest honor a BUD/S graduate can receive, being named “Honor Man.” Brendan was assigned to SEAL Team 3.”

Shortly after Brendan earned his Seal Trident, he married the love of his life. Just two days after the wedding, Brendan was deployed to Iraq. When he returned from this deployment, it was a short turnaround time before he left for his third and final deployment.

Brendan was a Troop Commander this deployment and responsible for developing strategies. During this deployment, Brendan and his SEAL Team 3 brothers completed 59 missions in less than seven months. Brendan’s commanding officer wrote that “his great qualities as a man and a diplomat ensured the delivery of humanitarian assistance and medical treatment for children and a representative governance to an embattled society.”

Ten days prior to Brendan’s expected return to the States, his SEAL team’s helicopter went down in the mountains of Afghanistan. On that day, his family says, Brendan gave his best self to our country. He was 29.

Brendan’s service, dedication and sacrifice to this country did not go unrecognized. His military awards and commendations include a Bronze Star with Valor, Navy Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal. Brendan was given full military honors and is interred with his fellow brothers-in-arms at Arlington National Cemetery. His grave is alongside his fellow fallen hero and USNA roommate Travis Manion.

Brendan is a hero. He gave everything for this country.

The Looney family remains very connected to the military. They have many family members who proudly serve this country. Brendan’s mom, Maureen Looney, created the Brendan Looney Foundation. This “ultimately became a way for our family to thank all those brave men and women who have heard the call to serve and help aid them through supporting their sons and daughters. Although we cannot help everyone, we try to help, one kid/one family at a time.”

So, while you enjoy the holiday alongside your family and friends, the Purple Heart Foundation asks you to remember the sacrifices that have been made so that you are free to do so.