From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Brett Bekken '89

Date of birth: July 28, 1967

Date of death: April 21, 2004

Age: 36

Lucky Bag

From the 1989 Lucky Bag:


From Travis Manion Foundation:

Major Brett Bekken was killed on April 21, 2004 when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed in the California desert during a training mission. He was on a two-plane formation exercise when the accident occurred. Major Bekken, a 1989 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, was a member of VFMA-112 based out of Fort Worth, TX.

From the Wisconsin State Journal on April 26, 2004:

An American Airlines pilot has been identified as the Marine Reserve pilot who was killed when his fighter jet crashed in the California desert.

Maj. Brett Bekken of Dallas died when his FA-18 Hornet crashed Wednesday night shortly after takeoff from Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, said Marine Aircraft Group 41 public affairs officer Maj. Chris Nollette.

Bekken, 36, was headed to Yuma Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., on a routine training mission. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, Nollette said.

"Maj. Bekken was a patriotic American and a fine Marine," Col. Gregory Raths, chief of staff of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement. "His death will be felt deeply by everyone who knew him."

Bekken, who grew up in Greendale, Wis., had served in the Marine Reserves for five years after a 10-year stint as an F-18 fighter pilot in the Marine Corps.

"He was doing what he loved to do," his brother, Eric Bekken of Oak Creek said in Sunday's editions of The Dallas Morning News. "He wouldn't have had it any other way."

The downed plane was part of a squadron based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. Its wreckage was found Thursday morning in a remote area near Glamis, Calif., about 160 miles east of San Diego.

Brett Bekken had worked for American Airlines for nearly four years, company spokesman John Hotard told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a Sunday story.


From the Naval Academy Alumni Association's updated "In Memoriam" page:

Brett was the type of person you wanted to be around. He was always up to something good and he made you want to be a part of it. Brett was a caring person, generous with his time and talents. Fair winds and following seas, my friend--you are missed. Tony Newpower '89

From Richard Shipley on February 25, 2020:

I was there the night his plane went down, in fact I drove him to his aircraft. That night he had just learned that he had been selected for promotion. We were actually laughing about the selection process and time to pinning. He was a great officer and I was proud to serve under him. One of those nights I'll never forget for sure. Richard Shipley

Other Information

From researcher Kathy Franz:

Brett graduated from Greendale High School in 1985. Baseball 9,10,11; Choir: Concert 11,12; Freshman Boys’ 9, Prep 10; Swing 11,12; Football 9,10,11,12 (12-Capt.); Homecoming Court 12; Intramurals 10,11,12; Math Club 9,12; Musical 12; National Honor Society 11,12; SAC 12; Track 9,10,11,12; Weight Club 10,11,12; Wrestling (155 lb. class) 9,10,11,12 (11 MVP); Academic Excellence Award 12. As a junior, his batting average was .412.

From Funeral Plans:

Bekken, Brett M, Major, "Boo Boo" USMC

April 21, 2004. Age 36 years. Loved and loving son of Ron and Sue. Dear friend and loving brother of Eric. Beloved uncle of Ashley and Marissa Bekken. Further survived by aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and his beloved Marine Corps brothers. Brett was a graduate ('85) of Greendale High School and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1989. He proudly served in the Marine Corps for 10 years and remained active with a reserve detachment located in Fort Worth, TX. Employed as a First Officer for American Airlines.

He is buried in Wisconsin.


All four photographs are from his high school yearbook.


Brett had recently been selected for promotion to Lt. Col.; this is the rank on his headstone and in Memorial Hall.

Class of 1989

Brett is one of 6 members of the Class of 1989 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.