Saluki SEAL receives SIU honor

By Jordan Duncan

Although he left campus a decade ago, Navy SEAL William Bushelle left a lasting impression on his classmates and professors.

Special Warfare Operator First Class Bushelle, who graduated from the university in 2004 and died Feb. 16 in a car crash in Las Vegas, was honored this weekend at the Leadership Development Program’s tailgate and will continue to be remembered with a scholarship. The core concepts of leadership developed by Bushelle are taught to members of the Leadership Development Program.

Bushelle’s mentor, professor Bruce DeRuntz, and two Navy SEALs who served with Bushelle, hosted a workshop and tailgated before the SIU football game on Saturday.


“This is not meant to be a memorial,” said DeRuntz, adviser of the Leadership Development Program, who has integrated Bushelle’s principles of leadership into the program. “This is a celebration of Will’s legacy. The impact he had on SIU.”

Bill Bushelle, William’s father, said his son learned to help those in need and developed leadership skills as a Boy Scout.

“He earned the rank of Eagle and the honor medal for saving a young girl’s life,” Bill said. “There was an accident in the chemistry laboratory in the high school and she wound up being doused in alcohol and somehow it came across a Bunsen burner. Will took off his shirt and put out the flames.”

Paul Bell, a friend of Bushelle, said the SIU Foundation is raising money for a $1,000-per-year scholarship in his honor. It would be awarded to an engineering student who is connected to the military or participates in the Leadership Development Program. He said the foundation hopes to raise $30,000 in the next five years.

Bill said instead of going to college, his son wanted to climb the highest mountain on each continent. When William asked his father to help fund this, Bill said, “What’s your other option?” William then joined the Navy.

Paula Bushelle, William’s mother, said she preferred her son joining the Navy instead of going to college.

“As a mother, I felt more comfortable with my son going to the Navy right out of high school than I would have felt comfortable with him going to college,” Paula said. “He was leaving home, but he still had a support system.”


Bill, who attended SIU, said his son gained an electrical engineering degree with the Navy and served two terms in the Middle East during his career.

DeRuntz said William developed deep friendships at the university. He said William always viewed Carbondale as home, and would visit him on occasion.

“When Will walked into a room, if you didn’t know him, you wanted to know him,” Bell said.