Winchester pays its respects to former Navy SEAL killed in Libya attack

The remains of former US Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was killed in Libya, were carried into St. Eulalia’s Church in Winchester.
The remains of former US Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was killed in Libya, were carried into St. Eulalia’s Church in Winchester.
Bill Greene/Globe Staff

WINCHESTER—Glen Doherty was the younger brother in his family, but even in junior high school, he was idolized by his older brother, Greg.

When friends were teased or called “losers” in the hallways, Greg said, Glen was always the one to stick up for them.

“No, that’s not true,”Greg Doherty recalled his brother saying. “They’re with me.”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Doherty, 42, was working as a security contractor when he was killed, along with US Ambassador John Christopher Stevens and two other men, last week in the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.

The former Navy SEAL was remembered today at St. Eulalia’s Parish in his hometown of Winchester. Hundreds gathered in pews to mourn and listen to stories about the courageous, vibrant man who traveled the world, while hundreds more lined the streets to pay their respects as his remains were carried in a procession to the church.

In a eulogy that lasted 23 minutes and elicited a standing ovation, Greg Doherty spoke of his brother’s sense of adventure and his desire to give back to the world.

Doherty lived an on-the-go lifestyle, working as a whitewater rafting guide and ski instructor before joining the US Navy and training to become an elite Navy SEAL.

Greg Doherty described his brother as a mix of “my mother’s light and my father’s good fight,” the kind of guy who sang in the car with or without the radio.

Few details have been released about the attack in Benghazi, which is being investigated by US and Libyan officials. US officials say it’s possible armed gunmen hijacked what had been a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islamic movie made in the United States.

Greg Doherty said his brother was called to help rescue employees inside the consulate. Before he died, Glen Doherty was able to repel violent protesters and shepherd the staff to safety at a guarded house 20 minutes away.

“The 30 people that had been rescued from the consulate — they live today. They are alive right now,” Greg Doherty said.

“He died protecting people because he believed in humanity,” Doherty said. “He cherished life enough to want to pay it back.”

The Rev. James W. Savage, who presided over the funeral service, compared Glen Doherty with Hector, the hero from Greek mythology who demonstrated courage and thoughtfulness and died while protecting the city of Troy.

Savage said it was a bitter irony that Doherty was killed in violence apparently sparked by religious extremism — by both the creation of an offensive anti-Islam video, and the violent attacks that followed — because Doherty felt passionate about respecting people from all cultures and faiths.

“It breaks my heart that Glen would be killed because he found himself ensnared between the crosshairs of religious zealots, be they Christian or Muslims,” Savage said.

At the end of the funeral, Doherty’s mother received a folded American flag that had been placed on top of the glass case carrying his ashes.

Earlier in the day, just after the bell tolled 10 a.m. in the center of this town, throngs of teenagers exited Winchester High School — Doherty’s alma mater — to honor his memory.

Throughout Winchester, residents lined the streets as they awaited the procession that precededthe funeral.

“It’s very sad, but also I kind of feel honored in a way to be here, because he was so important,” said Brie Silva, 16, who held two small American flags.

Her friend, Lily Qi, 17, agreed that it was a moving day for the community. “Winchester being very small and tight-knit, having him as a graduate was very close and very personal for us,” she said.

Police officers from around the state also gathered to pay their respects, some standing at attention in front of their motorcycles.

Carolyn Thorne, 70, a Winchester resident, held a bundle of American flags as she waited for the procession to begin. Her daughter graduated with Doherty, and she recalled that their class was extremely tight-knit.

Laura Aldrich’s husband, Michael, was also a member of that class. She stood at the same corner with her son, a toddler, who she said hoped learned the meaning of patriotism by witnessing the march to honor Doherty.

“This is a huge event that has touched all our lives,” said Aldrich. “We’re always going to remember where we were on this day.”