‘Survivor’ contestant from Virginia, retired Navy SEAL dead at 91

Rudy Boesch

Oldest 'Survivor' Contestant Rudy Boesch Dead at 91

Rudy Boesch, one of the first contestants to ever appear on Survivor, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, PEOPLE confirms.

Boesch became close to Hatch, who paid tribute to him Saturday on Twitter.

As it was mentioned above, at age 75, he set the record again for the oldest contestant when he competed on Survivor: All-Stars.

Boesch enlisted in the Navy in 1945 and served in Vietnam where he earned a Bronze Star for bravery.

"It is with a broken heart that we inform you that Master Chief Rudy Boesch passed away last night", the foundation posted on their Facebook page Saturday. At 72 years old, Boesch was the oldest contestant ever on the CBS show.

Despite losing the final challenge, Boesch's tough personality and fan base also earned him a spot on the eighth season of the popular CBS reality show, though his tenure wasn't almost as long as the first time. "You and I helped open minds and undermine predjudces [sic]". They had three children together.

Born Rudolph Ernst Boesch in Rochester, N.Y., in 1928, he was just 17 years old when he entered the Navy, kicking off a 45-year career of continuous service. He is one (of) the most iconic and adored players of all time.

Hatch elaborated on his sentiments with a statement to People. "But Rudy also served our country as an example of honesty and open-mindedness by respectfully engaging and aligning with me, an openly homosexual man, to play Survivor on the world stage".

Following the tragic news, Survivor alum reacted to Boesch's passing. "He will be missed by everyone who knew him".

As well as appearing on the popular show, the former Navy Seal was also the host of the 2002 Mark Burnett-produced reality competition series, Combat Missions.

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