Stuntwoman: Brie Coger, from Aspiring Actress to EOD Tech

Adventure seeker. Aspiring actress. Heroine. These are just a few ways to describe Ensign Brie Coger, who has served over eleven years in the United States Navy. In this latest episode of Faces of the Fleet, we meet the inspiring woman who turned her love of adrenaline into a career as an EOD Tech.

Beginnings

Born and raised in Staten Island, New York, Brie Coger was always an adventure seeker and knew her career would reflect that one day. Growing up amidst the arts and culture of New York City, she was drawn to a career in dramatic arts. 

New York was also where Brie found her love for water. Her family had a deep connection to the sea and she was no exception. In fact, one of her earliest memories is of earning the right to swim in the deep end of her local pool. She’d regularly go on her grandfather’s sailboat and float in the Hudson river, staring at the skyline of Manhattan. 

Water continued to be a strong force in Brie’s life as she grew up. In high school, she joined a synchronized swimming team and aspired to become a marine biologist. Though her dreams changed with time, her passion for being in the water did not. After high school, Brie joined the University of Miami’s NCAA Division I Women’s Swim Team as a freshman walk-on and later swam on Ohio State’s Synchronized swimming team.

After graduating from the Ohio State with an undergraduate degree in Theater in 2005, Brie looked for jobs as an actress and stuntwoman upon her return to New York City. 

“I had a fear of rejection during those days in New York. Even though I wanted to become an actress, I was terrified of being told no. I think that’s what ultimately motivated me to pursue stunt work. I loved the danger and the adrenaline that came with that career.”

While auditioning for various roles, Brie waitressed and worked in insurance sales, but neither came close to the career she desired. Disillusioned with waiting around for calls from producers and stunt coordinators, Brie was anxious that her lifestyle and passions weren’t aligning themselves. 

While sitting at one of her desk jobs, Brie opened a life-changing email.

Acting Turns to Action

The email was a recruitment ad from the military reserves. She knew if she was going to join the military, it was going to be the Navy because of her love for the water.

“I have always loved being in the water. I swam as a synchronized swimmer my entire life up until college and synchronized swimming just made me fast in the water. Fast enough to walk on to the University of Miami as a freshman and compete with people who had been swimming their entire lives at the competitive level.”

Curious to know more, Brie spoke with a Navy recruiter and shared her dream of becoming a stuntwoman. Sensing he was looking at a young woman who craved adventure and an adrenaline-fueled career path, the recruiter offered two jobs he felt aligned perfectly with Brie’s personality. 

“He said the coolest things I could do was to be a Search & Rescue Swimmer, Navy Diver or EOD Tech. I’d never heard what EOD Tech was, but turned out it was everything I wanted to do with stunt work. It was jumping out of airplanes and scuba diving and shooting things and blowing stuff up.”

What Is An EOD Tech?

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians have expertise in the most conventional and unconventional explosives to ensure the secure disposal of explosive weaponry. They are on call to respond to any type of ordnance and they receive specialized training to handle chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. They investigate and destruct natural and man-made underwater obstructions, prepare coastal regions for amphibious landings and warn about potential threats at home and abroad.

Whether getting the job done in a bomb suit or with state-of-the-art robotic technology, Navy EODs are trained to use the most advanced tools in a role that’s vital to the safety of service members and civilians.

“EOD Tech’s are the world’s elite bomb squad. We are trained to disarm conventional bombs, IED’s, chemical weapons, you name it. Our work is to help keep others from harm’s way. That is what has always intrigued me about the rate. I’m part of a protective force. We don’t go out and cause trouble. We’re here to make the situation better.”

Fast forward nearly twelve years and Brie’s Navy resume isn’t just impressive: it’s exceptional. Brie has received several Navy Achievement Medals and she was one of just 12 women enlisted as EOD Techs. 

Now an Officer, Brie has traveled to countless countries. She’s led a team to Jordan to provide EOD response for a 5,000 person exercise, as well as led a Tri-lateral exercise with Jordan and the UAE. Whether it’s diving, parachuting, shooting or disposing of radiological and chemical explosive devices, Brie travels to all corners of the globe living out her dream. 

“This life that the Navy has given me is everything I always wanted and so much more. I get my adrenaline fix every time I step into my area of work.”

Women in the Field

When she started out as an EOD, Brie joined the half a percent of women who were EOD Techs. This statistic only pushed Brie to work harder to prove that women are just as capable as men. 

“My community is very small and male-dominated, but gender doesn’t define who you are. If you have the capabilities, there’s a place for you in the Navy.”

In her nearly twelve years in the Navy, Brie has become an icon to young female Sailors. She serves as a reminder that with hard work and dedication, the growth opportunities in the Navy are limitless.

 

“The Navy is a very inclusive place. It’s not about gender, it’s about do you have what it takes to be the best. If you have what it takes, the sky’s the limit.” 

Brie is proud of the impact her work has had on the EOD Tech community. The percentage of women in this highly competitive field has already grown from 0.5% to over 2% since Brie enlisted.

“I feel like doubling our numbers in such a short time just speaks to how many women are out there that just didn’t know that it was available to them. They didn’t know it was an option.”

Life at Home

Though Brie has won countless medals and successfully completed missions most in the civilian world can barely comprehend, her Navy life has given her other gifts as well. She met her husband in Dive School while he was also working towards becoming an EOD tech. He’s someone who not only shared the same ambitions as herself, but who fully understood and accepted her for who she was.

“My passion and my aggressiveness in my career didn’t scare him. Eventually, about three years later we started dating. Once we were not the same command anymore, he proposed. Four months after that, we were married and bought a house. We are two sides of the same coin. He just understands everything about me and even now we’ve spent a lot of time apart because we’re both in the Navy and we put our careers first. Every time we get back together, it’s just like coming home again. The Navy helped me find my home in him.”

While being apart isn’t easy, especially with long deployments, the time they do get together is special.

“Our marriage is like a never-ending honeymoon. The time we do get to spend together means a lot. We make the most of every day together.”

While their lives are hectic and adrenaline-fueled, Brie’s dream is to one day start a family and live on a farm with animals; a life she’s been far removed from for over a decade. 

“I want a family, I want land, I want animals, and the ability to take care of something outside of the service. I want to, one day, grow a family, grow a farm, start a large animal, exotic rescue, and help out in a much different way, and put my passion towards helping other people who need my help, not just the ones who are in harm’s way.”

In her spare time, Brie is a frequent volunteer at Lions, Tigers and Bears, an animal sanctuary in San Diego, CA. An animal lover, Brie helps to make life better for the animals she interacts with. No matter how long she decides to stay in the Navy, Brie has lived the life of adventure and adrenaline she craved so much as a teenager. 

“I really owe my entire happiness to the Navy. It sounds cheesy, but I have a beautiful house. I have wonderful animals. I have the most amazing husband. The Navy is giving me the opportunity to have all those.”

Balancing her desire to start a family and her illustrious career is a challenge, but Brie has an unyielding dedication to both. While still only in her mid-thirties, she has realized that nothing in life is beyond her grasp. As a trailblazer in her field, Brie Coger’s life is filled with adventures and experiences most of us can only dream of.

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