Navy officials brief grieving mother on long-overdue investigation into the tragic death of SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen
Navy report finds ‘wholly inadequate’ medical monitoring and care during and after Hell Week training for SEALs
More than 15 months after Navy SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen tragically died after completing the notorious “Hell Week” training, top Navy officials today briefed his grieving mother Regina and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) on the findings of their long-anticipated “command” investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of her 24-year-old son from Manalapan, New Jersey.
Among its conclusions, the investigation identified “failures across multiple systems that led to a number of candidates being at a high risk of serious injury,” including “inadequate oversight, insufficient risk assessment, poor medical command and control…” and “wholly inadequate” medical monitoring and care during and after Hell Week.
“The Navy’s investigation has exposed a culture that needs radical change, and the Navy has given every indication that they will implement serious changes to address the egregiously flawed command structure and failure after failure that led to Kyle’s death,” Smith said after the three-hour briefing by a Navy admiral and captain.
“Looking at the egregious failures that went on, there needs to be serious accountability,” said Regina, who is a registered nurse. “The next stage of accountability is where I am focusing on.”
“When I first met Regina, she made it clear that no other parent should ever have to endure her pain,” said Smith, who brought Regina to meet with Speaker McCarthy after the briefing. “Today, she has made incredible strides in her goal to ensure these young men are as healthy as possible and have access to a world-class medical monitoring capability.”
The Navy’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding Kyle’s death follows an initial investigation concluded by the military in October 2022 that cleared him of any wrongdoing, determining that his death was “in the line of duty, not due to his own misconduct.”
According to a June 2022 autopsy report, Kyle died from acute pneumonia with cardiomegaly as a contributing factor just hours after completing the rigorous Hell Week training regime in February of last year.
Just weeks after the autopsy was released, the House passed an amendment authored by Smith aimed at improving medical care and oversight for high-stress military training programs in response to Kyle’s tragic death.
Named for Kyle, the Smith amendment—which was signed into law in December as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act—directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct an appraisal of current standards and provide recommendations to better ensure sailor safety during rigorous trainings like Hell Week and prevent long-term injury, illness, and death.
“It is a major mea culpa by the Navy,” said Smith. “None of this would have happened without Regina. These reforms are all coming to fruition because of her.”
“Having lost her son, Regina Mullen is now saving other young men from injury and maybe even death,” Smith said.