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Navy identifies SEAL trainee who died after ‘Hell Week’

Navy SEAL candidates participate in "surf immersion training" on May 4, 2020, at Naval Base Coronado.
Navy SEAL candidates participate in “surf immersion training” at Naval Base Coronado.
(U.S. Navy via Associated Press)
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The name of the sailor who died just after completing Navy SEAL training’s notorious “Hell Week” was released by the military Sunday.

Seaman Kyle Mullen, 24, died at Sharp Coronado Hospital on Friday afternoon after he and another SEAL trainee reported experiencing symptoms of an unknown illness, the Navy said.

The other sailor, whose name has not been released, was taken to Naval Medical Center San Diego and is in stable condition, a Naval Special Warfare spokesperson said Sunday.

The sailors weren’t actively training when they reported their symptoms, the Navy said.

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Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, offered his sympathies to Mullen’s family in a statement.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Seaman Mullen’s family for their loss,” Howard III said. “We are extending every form of support we can to the Mullen family and Kyle’s BUD/S classmates.”

The cause of death is unknown and remains under investigation.

Mullen joined the Navy in March 2021, according to his biography. He reported to SEAL training in Coronado in July.

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training — commonly called “BUD/S” — is a six-month course held at Naval Base Coronado. The Navy says it is among the “most mentally and physically demanding training in the world.”

Hell Week comes at the end of the initial three weeks of training. It typically begins on a Sunday night and concludes the following Friday morning. More than half of the candidates don’t make it through.

Candidates can run more than 200 miles during the event, often while carrying equipment. Theyalso have to swim in the cold surf of the Pacific and perform hours of physical training with little to no sleep.

The two sailors successfully completed the training but began showing symptoms of an illness a few hours later, the Navy said.

Mullen is at least the sixth SEAL candidate to die while going through the arduous program since 1988. All but one of the deaths involved training in water.

In March 1988, John Joseph Tomlinson, 22, died of hypothermia after swimming more than five miles in the Pacific during training at San Clemente Island.

In March 2001, Lt. John Skop Jr., 29, died during a swimming exercise — the first fatality involving a SEAL candidate during Hell Week.

The last death during BUD/S occurred in 2016 when 21-year-old Seaman James Lovelace drowned after a SEAL instructor repeatedly dunked him in a pool during the first week of training. The death was later ruled a homicide by the San Diego County medical examiner.

Staff writer Jeff McDonald and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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