July 10, 1970 – September 11, 2012
Glen Doherty was the second of three children born to Bernard “Ben” Doherty, now of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and Barbara Doherty, now of Woburn, Mass. His older brother is Greg Doherty of Kensington, California, his younger sister Kate Quigley of Marblehead, Mass. The siblings were great lifelong friends.
They grew up in Winchester, Mass, across the street from a patch of woods where they first fell in love with the outdoors. Ben Doherty, the son of Irish immigrants who kept a chicken farm in Billerica, Mass, is a former boxer and Massachusetts boxing commissioner, as well as a successful stockbroker, who raised the children to be athletic, tough, hard-working and family-minded. Barbara Doherty, who opened and for years ran a candy store in Lexington called The Candy Castle, is an extremely warm-hearted and friendly woman who raised her children to be kind to everyone, and who opened her home as a second home for all her children’s friends.
Glen was very loyal to his friends and family. He kept the same core group of friends since elementary school, and it was their loyalty to each other and fun-loving nature, as well as Barbara’s welcoming home, that brought them from being a one-time crew of social misfits to the center of an awful lot of damn fun people of all stripes who remain tight to this day.
After high school, Glen attended Embry Riddle aeronautical university in Arizona, where he flew planes, rode a motorcycle and decided that the only thing cooler to do than what he was doing would be to up and leave. His fearlessness took many forms throughout his life, but was always at his core. He became a ski bum at Snowbird, Utah in the winters, working at restaurants and becoming a phenomenal skier on both regular and telemark skis, as well as a talented cook and afterparty expert. In the summers, he was a white water rafting guide down the Colorado River, where his knowledge of the outdoors, his responsibility and his abilities to tell a great tall tale and to get everyone to have fun made multi-day journeys from Moab to Lake Powell experiences of a lifetime for many. He was always a hard worker and extremely responsible, which never managed to drive a wedge between him and the lovable riff-raff who shared his lifestyle. His athleticism also led him to become a triathlete during this period. The many friends he gathered during these years always remained as dear to him as he was to them, and he took every opportunity, usually meaning a few weeks a year, to return to his beloved mountains and friends in Utah.
A desire to push himself and to use his talents to make genuine change in the world led him to join the Navy SEALS in 1995. He passed the training and became a paramedic and sniper with the Middle East as his area of operations. His team responded to the USS Cole attack, among other missions. In 2001, he got his knees reconstructed and was planning on exiting the military when September 11th happened. He now was not allowed to leave and didn’t want to. He married Sonja Johnson, his girlfriend who he’d known since high school, and went overseas again. He participated in two tours of the 2003 Gulf War, “Iraqi Freedom.” In the first, his team began by securing the Kuwait oil fields before the invasion officially began to prevent the environmentally disastrous recurrence of them being burned, as had happened under Saddam Hussein’s orders during Desert Storm in 1991. Then they led the earliest Marine contingents battling on the move from the south of Iraq towards Baghdad. He was peeled from his unit for sniper duty for several days, returned to it before the taking of Baghdad, and continued with them to take Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit, where they finally got a breather in Hussein’s riverside palaces once those were cleared. He returned for another tour to the troubled country the following year. About fighting in Iraq, he simply believed that the possibility of liberating the country from a tyrant and making democracy possible for the Iraqi people was worth him risking his own life for. In typical Glen fashion, he made close lifelong friends with a number of his team members.
In 2005, he exited the SEALS, but remained focused on the region through private security contracting work that generally took him to the region in a pattern of about 3 months overseas, a month or two back home. He worked for peace and security in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere. Each gig was a different situation, some hairy, some boring, most both in alternating fashion. The pattern took a toll on his home life, and he got divorced. When at home, thereafter, he lived the life of Riley, bouncing between the beaches and Cross-fit facilities of San Diego, the mountains of Utah, and his family and friends in Massachusetts and around the country. He was the glue that kept many social scenes together. Once he flew all his closest friends and family members to Mexico for a beach vacation and put them up in cabins for a weekend, because that was what his priorities were about: time together. He was full of hilarious and adventuresome stories, of which you generally had to shave off about a quarter of the details to get at the pure facts, if those were your concern. He was a master of both shit-talk and encouragement. He wrote a book on sniping, 21st Century Sniper: A Complete Practical Guide with his friend Brandon Webb. He grew about as settled as he was inclined to allow himself to get with a good woman named Shannon Shepherd. His way of making everyone around him feel special and loved came from the fact that he genuinely looked up to all his friends, always seeing their greatness in a way they sometimes wished they could see themselves, and from the fact that he felt for them the purest and most loyal of love.
On September 12, 2012, Glen was killed in Benghazi, Libya by mortar fire while defending American diplomatic personnel from a sustained terrorist attack. The attackers had killed American Ambassador Chris Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith at the American special mission (“consulate”) on September 11th. Glen, on hearing of the attack, had rushed in from Tripoli to join the fight. He died alongside his friend and former SEAL teammate Tyrone Woods. The approximately 30 diplomatic personnel Glen and Ty were defending all survived.