Navy SEAL candidate dies of bacterial pneumonia after training


Navy SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen, 24, died of bacterial pneumonia within the hours after finishing what is called “Hell Week” through the particular operations drive’s demanding primary training program in February, a Navy line of obligation investigation launched Wednesday discovered.

While there have been a number of indicators Mullen was having respiration points and coughing up fluid within the final 24 hours of training, he was not pulled from training and never despatched to a hospital when it was accomplished.

Navy investigators concluded Mullen died within the “line of obligation, not on account of his personal misconduct,” a press launch from Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs mentioned.

Mullen’s dying has sparked criticism of the Navy SEAL’s intense Hell Week training program. There have been 10 Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) (the formal title for this system) training associated deaths since 1953, in keeping with the Navy.

The over 300-page investigation explains the trigger of Mullen’s dying, the occasions main as much as his dying within the last hours of the Hell Week training program, and attainable indicators that had been missed between medical caregivers and observers. The Navy has adopted some course of modifications since Mullen’s dying consequently.

Administrative actions have been taken in opposition to the previous Commanding Officer of Basic Training Command, Capt. Bradley Geary, the Commander of Naval Special Warfare Center, Capt. Brian Drechsler and senior medical workers underneath their command, the Navy mentioned. An administrative motion is usually within the kind of a letter to the service member instructing them on correcting poor efficiency. It doesn’t at all times result in the top of a profession.

Those administrative actions “can be reviewed through the” separate investigation directed by senior Navy leaders and led by Naval Education and Training Command that has not been accomplished or launched but, the Navy mentioned. This separate investigation would doubtless be the car for any future accountability actions if discovered to be warranted, a US navy official mentioned.


Mullen was coughing up what fellow classmates described as “phlegm,” “mucus,” and “dark-colored fluid” on the second to final day and last morning of Hell Week, in keeping with interviews included within the Navy’s investigation.

Hell Week is a five-day intense training train designed to “expose candidates to excessive stress in a managed setting,” in keeping with a Hell Week Validation Report included within the investigation. Hell Week is one half of a 56-week training program candidates should full to grow to be Navy SEALs.

During the five-day train, candidates are “solely allotted two 2-hour sleep intervals,” an interview included within the investigation mentioned.

“To the scholars it looks as if chaos, deliberately so,” an interview included within the investigation mentioned. “It replicates the confusion and situations within the area throughout warfare.”

Candidates collaborating in Hell Week are medically evaluated every day by a member of Naval Special Warfare Center Medical to find out if they’re able to proceed training. During training, Basic Training Command medical workers are within the area with candidates and instructors to answer any medical emergencies or points.

While a follow-up between Basic Training Command workers and Naval Special Warfare Center Medical was not “typical or standardized” earlier than Mullen’s dying, “it’s now,” a Naval Special Warfare Center Medical physician mentioned in an interview included within the investigation.

Mullen appeared in good well being and was finishing the training efficiently, in keeping with a number of interviews from fellow classmates, instructors and medical workers included within the investigation, till Thursday, February 3, the second to final day of the training.

Several fellow classmates interviewed mentioned they noticed Mullen coughing up fluid on Thursday. One fellow classmate described the fluid as “dark-colored,” one other described Mullen was “spitting up orange stuff” and famous he had a “very deep” cough, interviews within the investigation mentioned. A Basic Training Command workers member handled Mullen for knee ache on Thursday, however no respiration points had been talked about, the member mentioned in an interview.

On the morning of February 4, hours away from finishing the training, Mullen “self-reported for respiration points,” a Basic Training Command workers member mentioned. Mullen was given oxygen twice the morning of February 4, as soon as at 6:53 a.m. and as soon as at 8:16 a.m., in keeping with the 24-hour Hell Week medical remark log included within the investigation.

“There is not any written coverage requiring Naval Special Warfare Center Medical be contacted if a scholar is being handled with oxygen,” a Basic Training Command workers member mentioned in an interview included within the investigation.

Center Medical “ought to have identified” Mullen was placed on oxygen that morning, a Naval Special Warfare Center Medical physician interviewed for the investigation mentioned. “It could have warranted a chest X-ray,” the physician mentioned.

Mullen returned to training between these two cases of receiving oxygen. After receiving oxygen the second time, Mullen was transported to the situation the place the remaining of the candidates had been finishing Hell Week by ambulance, a paramedic who handled Mullen from Basic Training Command that morning mentioned.

Mullen accomplished and handed the medical verify from Naval Special Warfare Center Medical after he completed Hell Week. He was moved from the classroom the place he was briefed together with his fellow classmates to the barracks in a wheelchair because of the excessive swelling he was experiencing, a number of interviews included within the investigation mentioned.

One of his fellow classmates described Mullen as “wanting just like the ‘Michelin Man’ as a result of he was tremendous overrated on the last medical verify,” an interview included within the investigation mentioned.

A fellow classmate of Mullen’s mentioned that whereas Mullen accomplished the medical verify efficiently, he was “nonetheless coughing up fluid when he obtained to the classroom,” the place they had been all briefed after finishing training.

Another classmate noticed Mullen sitting within the classroom with a Gatorade bottle “between his legs spitting bloody mucus inside of it,” an interview included within the investigation mentioned.

Ten classmates who accomplished the Hell Week training with Mullen observed him coughing up mucus and discolored fluid from Thursday to Friday morning when the training was full, in keeping with interviews included within the report.


After finishing the training, Mullen returned to the barracks to relaxation together with his fellow classmates. He was noticed by candidates awaiting training college students on the command, or CATS, assigned to look at over the candidates and help them in restoration. They should not medically educated.

One of the individuals helping with watching over the candidates mentioned he “may inform Mullen was going to wish fixed watch and help on account of his remark that Mullen gave the impression to be coughing and spitting up blood right into a Gatorade bottle,” an interview with the particular person mentioned.

One of the observers known as the obligation medical officer at 2:35 p.m. on February 4, per the protocol outlined on the finish of Hell Week, saying Mullen was “unable to eat with out vomiting and was coughing and spitting up fluids,” the investigation states. The obligation medical officer suggested the particular person to name 911.

Candidates should not inspired to name 911 after finishing training, as a result of “from the attitude of medical workers and candidates, exterior medical workers should not aware of the bodily results of the acute training candidates endure,” the investigation mentioned. If candidates go to the hospital and are misdiagnosed or identified with one thing that disqualifies them, they’re in danger of being medically disqualified from training.

On a duplicate of the post-Hell Week scholar temporary included within the investigation, No. 11 states, “DO NOT go and see different/exterior medical suppliers. We will see you at any time (If it’s a true emergency name 911)… IF YOU GO AND SEE OTHER MEDICAL PERSONNEL WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND HELL WEEK, THEY MAY ADMIT YOU TO THE HOSPITAL OR GIVE YOU MEDICINES THAT ARE NOT COMPATIBLE WITH TRAINING.”

One of the observers taking care of Mullen “recalled somebody relayed it was Mullen’s option to go to medical. Mullen advised” two individuals “no he didn’t need to go to medical,” an interview with one of the observers included within the investigation mentioned.

Mullen’s situation continued to deteriorate. Between 3:50 p.m. and 4:09 p.m., “Mullen was seen ‘gasping for air’ and gave the impression to be ‘tremendous swollen’ or ‘bloated,’ with blueish coloured pores and skin and fluids popping out of his mouth,” the findings of information within the investigation mentioned.

At 4:03 p.m., the officer-in-charge known as the obligation medical officer once more who advised him to name 911. The federal fireplace division acquired a name at 4:09 p.m. and arrived quarter-hour later. Mullen was unresponsive on the time they arrived, the investigation mentioned.

Mullen stopped respiration 5 minutes earlier than Emergency Medical Services confirmed up, one of the individuals observing him mentioned in an interview.

Mullen was then transported to the closest hospital and was declared lifeless at 5:35 p.m.


Since Mullen’s dying, the Navy has adopted a number of modifications together with including superior cardiology screening for Navy SEAL candidates, together with proactive pneumonia prevention training by giving candidates an injection of Bicillin forward of BUD/S and lengthening medical personnel to watch candidates who’ve accomplished the training for twenty-four hours after Hell Week ends, in keeping with the Navy.

There can be now a “necessary, formal shift turnover” between Basic Training Command Medical and NSW Central Medical to “talk about the medical standing of candidates,” the Navy mentioned.

No modifications to the Hell Week training itself have been carried out.

While no medication had been present in Mullen’s system in keeping with the post-mortem, Mullen’s dying has sparked concern round candidates’ use of efficiency enhancing medication to push themselves bodily in this system.

One of the modifications the Navy has adopted since Mullen’s dying is together with “medically safe-to-train” PED testing “by urine exams” for candidates, the Navy mentioned. The Navy can be engaged on an “exception to coverage” to increase the authority to check candidates for PEDs with a purpose to assist in “understanding the scope of PED use throughout the drive and counter unauthorized PED use,” the Navy added.

Rear Admiral Keith Davids, the Commander of Naval Special Warfare Command which oversees the SEALs and their training, despatched a memo to his command on Oct. 4 after information articles about Mullen’s dying and different points throughout the SEALs had been revealed, reminding everybody within the command to “create a tradition of accountability.” CNN obtained a duplicate of the memo.

“We should frequently self-assess and self-correct in order that we determine issues earlier than they develop into bigger, systemic points. I count on everybody in our neighborhood to create a tradition of accountability and to evaluate and use the instruments at your disposal to keep up good order, self-discipline and mission success,” the memo states.


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