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Navy SEAL commanding officer says he carries weight of seaman’s death after ‘Hell Week’: report

The Navy commander of a SEAL training facility in San Diego, California, said he does not take responsibility for death of seaman who died after "Hell Week," but carries the weight for what happened to Kyle Mullen.

The Navy commander of a SEAL candidate who died after completing the infamously grueling “Hell Week” training in California confessed he does not feel responsible for the seaman’s death, but will always carry the weight on his shoulders, according to reports.

Good Morning America (GMA) interviewed U.S. Navy Capt. Brad Geary — a commanding officer at the Naval Special Warfare’s Basic Training Command — in a report that aired Tuesday, during which the captain defended himself while blasting a nearly 200-page report that dug into the SEAL training course.

Last month, the Navy released its investigation into Seaman Kyle Mullen’s death, which found that Basic Underwater Demolition/Sea, Air, and Land (BUD/S) was “operating with a previously unrecognized accumulation of risk across multiple systems,” including a lack of medical oversight.


NAVY SAYS SEAL TRAINING IN WHICH SEAMAN DIED OPERATED WITH ‘UNRECOGNIZED ACCUMULATION OF RISK’

“The entire report mischaracterizes, misrepresents and misquotes our organization and Naval Special Warfare, because it was built off a bias that was inappropriate and regurgitated untruths that simply don’t exist,” Geary told the reporter.

In February 2022, Mullen collapsed and died at a San Diego, California, area hospital after he and another SEAL trainee reported experiencing symptoms of an unknown illness.

The Navy announced in October that Mullen died of acute pneumonia with a contributing factor of an enlarged heart, ruling his death was “in the line of duty, not due to his own misconduct.”

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Mullen died at the end of “Hell Week,” a five-and-a-half-day test that is considered one of the most grueling periods of SEAL training.

After collapsing, Mullen’s lungs were reported to be abnormal, and his legs were so swollen that he needed to be wheeled to the barracks in a wheelchair.

Geary said Mullen’s vitals were actually “very clean,” and the wheelchair was used for his comfort. He added that it was common for SEAL candidates to have abnormal lungs or swelling after “Hell Week.”

But once Mullen got to the barrack, the report said he struggled to breath and the site lacked medical personnel. It also found the medical staff was poorly organized, poorly integrated and poorly led, putting candidates at “significant risk.”

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Geary was asked if he felt responsible for Mullen’s death as the commanding officer.

“There’s a weight on the shoulders of every commanding officer that has served, and I don’t think that weight can be reduced down to one term like responsibility,” he said. “I will always carry the weight of Kyle’s death on my shoulders. What I feel responsible for is speaking truth to ensure that it never happens again.”

Geary does not hold anyone accountable for Mullen’s death, but instead said his death was a “tragedy,” which is one thing he agreed on in the report.

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“It was a perfect storm of factors that all combined at the wrong possible moment in time and resulted in the tragic loss of Kyle,” Geary said.

In response to Mullen’s death, the Navy said several improvements to its training program have been implemented, including greater instructor oversight and training; more thorough medical screenings for cardiac conditions; updated medical policies and standard operating procedures; and a new expanded authority to test candidates for PEDs.

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Mullen, of Manalapan Township, New Jersey, joined the Navy in March 2021, according to his Navy biography. He reported to SEAL training in Coronado in July of that year. 

Rear Adm. Keith Davids, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, said the Navy has a duty to learn from Mullen’s death and to make sure similar occurrences don’t happen again. 

Louis Casiano of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.

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