Rudolph "Rudy" Ernst Boesch ( BOSH; January 20, 1928 – November 1, 2019) was a 45-year veteran and United States Navy SEAL and a two-time competitor on the reality competition show Survivor.
Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Boesch enlisted in the United States Navy at age 17. He became a Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) Frogman in 1951, serving on two UDT Teams. He was chosen as one of the first SEALs, becoming Chief of the Boat of newly created SEAL Team TWO in 1962. Starting in 1968 and 1970, Boesch completed two combat deployments during the Vietnam War, where he earned the Bronze Star for heroic action. During that time and later, Boesch set physical and operational standards at SEAL Team TWO. In 1987, he became Senior Enlisted Advisor for United States Special Operations Command. Designated the "Bullfrog", the longest-serving SEAL still on active duty, Boesch achieved considerable renown within the force for his physical fitness training regimens and his military appearance. After 45 years of continuous service, he retired from the Navy in 1990 as a master chief petty officer.
The oldest competitor on the inaugural Survivor: Borneo at 72 years of age, Boesch finished in third place. The program was the top-rated show on American television during summer 2000, and with his gruff, cantankerous manner, and his politically incorrect "Rudyisms", he became one of the show's most popular contestants. Boesch set the age record again when he competed on Survivor: All-Stars at 75. He parlayed his fame into several other television appearances, including hosting the show Combat Missions in 2002.
By August 2019, Boesch suffered from Alzheimer's disease and required around-the-clock care. False reports of his demise surfaced on August 1, 2019, which were debunked by his family. Boesch died on November 1, 2019, at age 91.
The New York Times summarized his fame as "An ex-Navy man, he was the oldest, and probably bluntest, castaway ever to appear on CBS’s popular reality show, becoming a Season 1 fan favorite."
Host Jeff Probst posted on Twitter,