Judy Hession thought the blonde, smiley boy with freckles in her 11th-grade British literature class would grow up to be a chief executive or an entrepreneur.
But Winchester native Glen Doherty became a Navy SEAL instead. He was killed in Libya late Tuesday at the age of 42, while serving on a security detail at the American consulate in Benghazi.
“I was shocked because he was so vivid and had such a strong life force,” said Hession, who has worked in the Winchester public school system for the past 30 years. “I haven’t retired yet and you wouldn’t expect your students to die before you, especially not in this way.”
Hession, who lives in Cambridge, saw the attack reported on the news Wednesday night and asked her husband why the names of some of the victims were not released.
She said that at 9:30 this morning, a secretary at Winchester High School “who knows everything and knows every kid who has walked through the doors” told her that it was Doherty, class of 1988, who had died in the apparent terrorist attack in Libya.
Hession said that when she heard Doherty’s name, she remembered him immediately.
“The picture just flew into my head,” she said. “There must have been some special thing that he and I had.”
Doherty was an “A” student, tennis player, and wrestler during his time at Winchester High, said Hession, who has been the English director for the past 13 years.
“I feel incredibly sad,” she said. “This is just awful. I can’t quite take it in. I have no place to put it.”
Hession described Doherty as “happy-go-lucky” and “full of optimism.”
“He would make the room a better place just by being there,” she said.
Although she didn’t expect Doherty to go into the military, Hession is not surprised that he was able to accomplish so much.
“People give their lives for their country in ways that we couldn’t even imagine,” she said. “I just appreciate that this kid’s life is going to be public in a way that he deserves.”
Glen Otero met Doherty four years ago at the SEALFIT Training Center, a fitness facility in Encinitas, Calif., that focuses on high-intensity training sessions.
Otero, 46, of San Diego is a trainer at SEALFIT, as was Doherty.
“As coaches, he and I worked together really well there, training aspiring SEAL candidates,” Otero said. “He demonstrated fantastic leadership. I really trusted him. I really liked him.”
Otero said Doherty had a great sense of humor and was “very inspiring.”
“He inspired me to want to serve my country as deeply as he did,” Otero said. “He was certainly someone all the candidates looked up to and I looked up to as someone who really took pride in serving this country in the role that he chose.”
Otero said that Doherty was someone he could always count on and that his colleague made the most physically grueling training sessions bearable.
“He just made it easier and brought everyone together,” Otero said. “I’m not looking forward to going back to the training facility just because it’s going to be hard to get him off my mind.”