(NEW YORK) — The Navy commander in charge of the “Hell Week” training when a SEAL candidate died spoke out on ABC News’ Good Morning America after an investigation found multiple problems with the program.
Capt. Brad Geary told ABC News’ Stephanie Ramos that the death of Kyle Mullen in 2022 was a “tragedy” but defended himself and the program against the probe, which outlined ways the selection progress for SEAL candidates had become dangerous.
“That entire report mischaracterizes, misrepresents and misquotes our organization and Naval special warfare,” Geary said. “Because it was built off of a bias that was inappropriate and regurgitated untruths that simply didn’t exist.”
Mullen, a 24-year-old former Yale football team captain, collapsed and died just hours after completing the program. His death, and the hospitalization of three others from his class, shined a light on the intense, non-stop physical Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course candidates undergo to become elite SEALs.
A nearly 200-page report the Naval Education and Training Command released last month identified “failures across multiple systems that led to a number of candidates being at a high risk of serious injury.”
Poor leadership, inadequately organized medical care and other factors increased the risks for SEAL candidates, according to the report.
Three Navy officers, including Geary, received “non-punitive” letters as a result of Mullen’s death.
“There’s a weight on the shoulders of every commanding officer that has served,” Geary said when asked if he felt responsibility for Mullen’s death. “And I don’t think that weight can be reduced down to one term-like responsibility. 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 said there was no one he held accountable for Mullen’s death.
“His death was a tragedy,” Geary said. “And this is one thing I agree with the report on. 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.”
Mullen’s mother, Regina Mullen, expressed frustration with what she said was a lack of accountability for her son’s death.
“The Navy SEAL code item four says take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates,” she said. “He’s the commander, the commander’s supposed to command. Four people almost died that day. My son, unfortunately, died. He’s responsible. I don’t know how he could say he’s not.”
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