About David Burnell

David is a successful businessman and has created several successful enterprises from the ground up. David is a decorated veteran of the United States Air Force with over a decade of honorable service. He is a former Dive Rescue International (DRI) public safety SCUBA Instructor (PSSI), a humanitarian, military veteran, search and rescue veteran, defensive tactics instructor, anti-human trafficking specialist, counter terror specialist and certified bodyguard for high risk areas. He is a small arms expert, National Taekwondo Champion, and the producer and director of over 16 commercial films.

"It is all about loving, learning, listening, laughing and lifting those around us." - David

Intense, Honest and Driven

His missions span the globe ranging from military to intense rescue and recovery operations. They also include heartwarming and very dangerous humanitarian missions in places like Haiti, Nicaragua and Burma. In these videos David shares some of the most impactful life changing moments.


David is a decorated veteran with a decade of honorable active duty military service with the United States Air Force. He has participated in dozens of joint service military operations in multiple continents. He is a graduate of an elite hostage rescue school in England and was considered the most unconventional thinker by the instructors. He served on the Blue Knights Rifle Drill Team and the Honor Guard. He won the John Levitow Award for being the top graduate at Leadership School. David ended his career with an honorable discharge and many top performer awards to include the Meritorious Service Medal.

Youth Speaker

David speaks to large or small groups and loves connecting with the youth! From youth firesides, key note addresses, youth conferences, and seminars. David is available to share his powerful message of resilience, love, service and hope. He will inspire you to overcome the obstacles to success through intense and heartwarming stories from his missions around the world!

Corporate Speaker

He has built and sold 3 businesses from the ground up. He knows what it takes to accelerate personal and corporate growth! David is described as intense, honest and driven. His sense of humor and unconventional nature stem from his life experiences in business, military operations, humanitarian missions and rescue and recovery work.

Tactics Instructor

David has trained thousands of police, military and federal agents in urban warfare, close quarters fighting and how to reduse the negative effects of operational stress.


David is a successful businessman and has created several successful enterprises from the ground up. He has been hired to turn around failing companies and excellerate their growth. He has a proven record of out performing goals by determining critical success factors, and then organizing teams and strategies needed to achieve them. David knows how to accelerate growth and develop a brand. He builds elite teams through the core leadership principles of honesty, integrity and commitment. David is a graduate of IKON OFFICE SOLUTIONS Presidents School has consistently been the recipient of many top performer awards.

Search and Rescue Veteran

David is a former Search and Rescue (SAR) Instructor and has participated in hundreds of missions to include, air operations, body recovery, search, cave rescue, mine rescue, vehicle extrication, vertical rescue, trench rescue, and fire support. Some of my key deployments include Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Alabama, Thailand, Burma and Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Dive Rescue International Instructor

David is a former Instructor for Dive Rescue International (DRI) Public Safety SCUBA Instructor (PSSI). He has worked with federal dive teams and has also instructed foreign Special Operations Helicopter pilots in water egress and operations. He served as the Vice President of the Rapid City Dive Team and as an operational diver performed many body recoveries. It was in the ice covered and fast water environments where many of David's critical experiences were forged. He has recovered bodies under the ice, in deep water and in black water (zero visibility). He has recovered people under the water and ice from airplane crashes, automobiles, recreational vehicles and even animals.

Self-defense Instructor

David Burnell is formally trained in many styles of fighting, and is a National Tae Kwon Do champion in forms and full contact. He has taught U.S. Special Operations, Federal agents, SWAT Teams and Civilians his unique style of fighting. His unarmed fighting style and methods are crystalized into a system that is principle based and simple. His extensive experience includes, Chief of Security in post earthquake Haiti and Chief Bodyguard for the Task Force Commander. He a distinguished graduate of several shooting, tactical and emergency response programs. He has mastered many firearms and is a qualified Senior Instructor for both unarmed and armed combat.

Urban Warfare Center Founder

After the 9/11 attacks David founded the Urban Warfare Center and the Combat Stress Program. Thousands of soldiers, federal agents and police were trained to win the fight in through his branded stress inoculation training. According to senior military and law enforcement leadership these programs saved lives and reduced casualty rates.

Bodyguard High Risk Areas

David is a certified bodyguard for high risk areas through Crisis Response International (CRI) an Israeli based counter terrorism school. David has participated in anti-human trafficking operations, and been a personal bodyguard for commanders, business professionals and private citizens. In 2010 David was selected as the chief of security for the Utah Hospital Task Force for post Earthquake Haiti. His duties included protection of the Task Force Commander, a former advisor to President Reagan, as well as ensuring the protection of 120 doctors, nurses and translators. This event was the largest natural disaster in modern recorded history.


David has been on many self-funded humanitarian mission including Haiti, Burma, Thailand, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and many others. Some of David's recent missions include Burma with the Karen Army, Thailand, Nicaragua with the RAMA Indians, Costa Rica, Japan Tsunami Recovery Operations, and Alabama Tornado Relief Operations.

Movies and Film

David has directed and produced over 16 commercial films such as OPSWAR®, the Danger Calls series and many more. He has consulted and trained actors to play Special Operations personel in full feature films. After training the actors in the film The 11th Hour he and his cadre roled in the first 15 minutes of the film as Navy SEALs performing a hostage rescue mission in North Korea.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

“David Burnell is just an all round GREAT GUY!!! I LOVE attending his events and classes! Every time I hear him speak or sit in one of his self defense classes I learn something new, helpful and definitely interesting! He knows his stuff 100%! Probably because he’s lived it and not just studied it like some others. That’s also why I think his skills and knowledge are at a master class level, because he’s served his country and others all around the world for years at an ELITE level! This has allowed him to put his knowledge to the test and gain unique insight through his real life experiences. But the one thing that I think I love the most about David, are his stories!! 😃 Every single one of them is just SO AWESOME! He has a special talent for delivering them with such great passion, excitement and humor, I just LOVE IT!! You’ll never regret hearing from David or attending one of his events I promise!”

Aaron Gosney