On May 5, 2017, the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I., re-named their central plaza.

The new name of the plaza — where every student will participate in formations three times a day — is Lt. Brendan Looney Plaza.

Who is Lt. Brendan Looney?

“He was a very selfless leader,” Amy Looney said of her late husband. “He was somebody that was never afraid to get down and dirty in order to get something done. And he never shied away from things, even if he was scared or it wasn’t something that he felt comfortable doing; he always liked to challenge himself by pushing himself out of his comfort zone.”

As a local sports fan or just as an American, Lt. Brendan Looney is someone you should know about this Memorial Day weekend. And that’s not just because one of his most remarkable moments as an athlete was sharing the field at M&T Bank Stadium with his brothers Billy and Stephen on Memorial Day in 2004 as the Navy lacrosse team played for the NCAA championship against Syracuse.

A Navy SEAL, Looney was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan during his fourth deployment in 2010. He was 29.

Looney was a native of Owings, Md., and a DeMatha alum. He spent his first two years in Annapolis, Md., playing football for the Naval Academy and then transitioned to lacrosse so he could play alongside his brothers.

“He was the oldest of six; he had to be a leader from the get-go,” father Kevin Looney said. “He did a great job with his siblings. When he’d play CYO ball, or Boys Club ,or baseball or basketball … he was always that leader.”

After graduating from the Academy in 2004, Looney began his military career. However, that career almost never came to be.

“He was a guy that always stepped up above and beyond as a matter of fact,” Kevin Looney said. “Brendan, not only did he volunteer — all of the military does that — but Brendan had to get a waiver to get into the Naval Academy, had to get a waiver to get into the SEALs, so he had to not just volunteer but go a step beyond that, because he was color blind. The Naval Academy only accepts like 40 color-blind guys at one time for all four classes.

“He had to get a waiver for that, and then he had to get a waiver to get in SEALs because he came out as a restricted line officer, and until then they weren’t accepting restricted line officers in the SEAL program. But they made an exception a couple years after Brendan had graduated. I’m not going to say there weren’t other color-blind SEALs, but I think he’s the first official color-blind SEAL.”

Looney’s death occurred three years after his college roommate and best friend, Travis Manion, a former wrestler at the Naval Academy, was killed in combat in Iraq.

Those closest to both Looney and Manion have worked since that time to ensure their legacies will continue.

“I think for any Gold Star family member that’s lost a loved one in service to our country it’s always important to continue educating,” Amy Looney said. “The reality is we’re going to have generations that will come, that will live well beyond my years and the rest of Brendan’s family’s years here on earth. And it’s important for us to be able to share his legacy, what he stood for, who he was, so that people can hopefully be inspired and motivated and want to follow the steps that he lead in his life, whether they choose to serve in the military or not.”

Amy Looney actually began working with the Travis Manion Foundation in 2008.

“The whole mission behind the foundation is to empower veterans and families of the fallen to instill character into future generations,” Amy Looney said. “These character qualities, these strengths and these values that these men and women that might not be here anymore embodied throughout their life — we’re demonstrating that veterans and families of the fallen, they are strong leaders within their own communities.

“And they want to be able to educate and instill those values that these young adults [who] might not have the opportunity to know these men and women but they can still live by their values and maybe incorporate them into their day-to-day life. And a lot of that is really embodied through Travis’ words that he spoke before his last and final deployment: ‘If not me, then who?'”

Said Kevin Looney: “Brendan’s Foundation was established by my late wife, Maureen Looney. It is all volunteer-led and administered. We are trying to help the families of active duty and retired military as well as families of the fallen with different scholarships.

“Living The Legacy scholarships have been and are awarded to an exemplary senior in honor of a fallen service member at the fallen heroes’ alma mater. Legacy, spreading the word about the hero’s life, honoring families and their sacrifice, with the hope and promise that the recipient will be challenged in their own life to make a difference.”

The Foundation also offers camp scholarships for military families.

“The toll that military life takes on families inspired camp scholarships,” Kevin Looney said.

The Foundation explains that they offer “financial support to children age 17-and-under to attend academic, athletic, art, music or leadership/exploration camps or similar venue to pursue interests or further develop talent.”

You can donate to the Looney Foundation and the Manion Foundation. These two men were both local athletes and American heroes. It would seem to be an appropriate way for a Baltimore sports fan to do something positive this Memorial Day.  

Glenn Clark

See all posts by Glenn Clark. Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter at @glennclarkradio