Questions linger after Navy report on SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen death
Navy Captain Brad Geary was on the verge of becoming an admiral when he received devastating news on Feb. 4, 2022. One of his Navy SEAL candidates, Seaman Kyle Mullen, was found unresponsive in his room just hours after completing the grueling “Hell Week” training program. Despite being rushed to the hospital, Mullen passed away. The autopsy report cited a combination of pneumonia and swimming-induced pulmonary edema as the cause of death, common in SEAL candidates who experience fluid buildup in their lungs after prolonged exposure to frigid waters. Following a highly critical Navy investigation into Mullen’s death, Geary faced scrutiny from the Navy, Congress, and the press. He planned to retire from the service without adding a star to his uniform.
In an exclusive interview with The Post, Geary spoke out for the first time since Mullen’s tragic death. A Navy SEAL himself, Geary maintained that he was unfairly maligned in the report, which accused him of ignoring concerns about rising dropout rates and fostering an environment where seeking medical attention was discouraged. The report also alleged that his leadership encouraged extreme practices among young SEAL trainers while silencing retired SEALs brought in as advisers. It placed the heaviest blame for Mullen’s death on Geary and his staff.
Geary denied the allegations, stating that he was deeply saddened by Mullen’s death and that his top priority was always the safety and well-being of his candidates. He argued that he had made significant changes to the program to prevent attrition, such as mandating six hours of sleep before Hell Week and eliminating heavy rucksacks from runs in early training phases. He had also conducted a study to identify the cause of rising dropout rates, consulting with experts and academics, but his concerns were allegedly ignored when brought to Navy leadership. Only after Mullen’s death did the Navy take action.
Geary’s attorney, Jason Wareham, criticized the Navy investigation, alleging mishandling of evidence and twisted quotes and misconstructions. An Army coroner, for example, failed to test Mullen for certain performance-enhancing drugs despite knowing some were discovered in his belongings after he died. While Mullen tested negative for steroids, other PEDs, including human growth hormone and testosterone, were found with syringes in his car, according to the report. Geary received an official letter of reprimand after the investigation but was allowed to continue his service in the military.
What is Hell Week?
Hell Week is a notoriously grueling portion of the Navy SEALs’ boot camp designed to test candidates’ physical and mental endurance. The five-and-a-half-day stretch allows just four hours of sleep each night and runs a total of more than 200 miles. Candidates have to swim in the frigid ocean and complete other physical training for more than 20 hours per day.
What caused Seaman Kyle Mullen’s death?
An autopsy report revealed that Mullen died of a combination of pneumonia and swimming-induced pulmonary edema, a condition common in SEAL candidates who experience fluid buildup in their lungs after prolonged exposure to frigid waters.
What changes did Captain Brad Geary make to prevent attrition in the SEAL training program?
Geary mandated six hours of sleep before Hell Week and eliminated heavy rucksacks from runs in early training phases.
What allegations were made against Captain Brad Geary in the Navy investigation?
The Navy investigation alleged that Geary ignored concerns about rising dropout rates and fostered an environment where seeking medical attention was discouraged. It accused his leadership of encouraging extreme practices among young SEAL trainers while silencing retired SEALs brought in as advisers. It placed the heaviest blame on Geary and his staff for Seaman Kyle Mullen’s death.
What was the result of the Navy investigation into Seaman Kyle Mullen’s death?
Captain Brad Geary received an official letter of reprimand but was allowed to continue his service in the military.
Navy report on SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen’s death raises unresolved questions.
Navy Capt. Brad Geary, a former Navy SEAL officer, is facing scrutiny from the Navy, Congress, and the press following a highly critical Navy investigation into the death of Navy SEAL candidate Seaman Kyle Mullen. Mullen, 24, was found unresponsive hours after completing the SEAL training program’s “Hell Week” in the middle of winter. He had pushed himself through more than 200 miles of running, swimming in the frigid ocean, and other physical training for over 20 hours per day. An autopsy report revealed Mullen died of a combination of pneumonia and swimming-induced pulmonary edema, a condition common in SEAL candidates.
Geary, who was on the path to becoming an admiral, had just received the Navy’s top honor for inspirational leadership when he was hit with the news of Mullen’s death in 2022. Following the tragedy, Navy investigators swarmed Geary’s command, alleging he pushed his cadre of trainers to abuse the hopefuls while discouraging seeking medical attention. The investigation also claimed that the voices of retired SEALs brought in as advisers were silenced.
Geary strongly denied the allegations and expressed disappointment with the investigation’s results. He laid his concerns about the rising number of SEAL candidates dropping out of the training program he took over in 2020 and his efforts to conduct a study to identify the cause. Despite the negative outcomes, Geary plans to retire from the service without adding a star to his uniform.
Mullen’s mother, Regina Mullen, blamed Geary for her son’s death and called him a murderer. She suggested no one should go through the elite special forces training course. Geary received an official letter of reprimand after the Navy investigation but was allowed to continue his service in the military. However, the letter is likely a career-killer, as his name has been sullied throughout the course of the investigation.