MANALAPAN, NJ — The Navy SEAL candidate who died Friday after a grueling training known as “Hell Week” has been identified as Kyle Mullen, who grew up in Manalapan Township, according to the U.S. Navy.
“The whole community is feeling this; it’s a terrible tragedy,” said Manalapan Mayor Susan Cohen Monday morning.
Mullen’s parents still live in Manalapan Township, she said. He grew up in Manalapan and graduated from Manalapan High School, where he was a star football player and had a 4.4 GPA, said his former coach, longtime Manalapan High School football coach Ed Gurrieri.
Mullen, 24, died Friday after he and the rest of his Navy SEAL class successfully completed Hell Week, according to this statement from the U.S. Navy announcing his death. Another SEAL candidate, who has not been named, remains hospitalized after the training.
Mullen was not actively training at the time of his death, and neither was the other hospitalized soldier. He died about four hours after his last training in the water. They started reporting symptoms after the training and were taken to local hospitals, said the Navy.
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The U.S. Navy has not specifically said what caused Mullen to die. The cause of his death is currently unknown, said the Navy, and an investigation is underway.
However, earlier in the day Friday, Mullen and his class had successfully completed an assessment as part of the first phase of their Navy SEAL training, said the U.S. military. Mullen and the other SEAL candidate were in the Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL class.
“He completed training earlier in the morning (Friday) and was not training at the time of his death, which was 5:42 p.m.” California time, said a Navy spokeswoman.
Mullen died at Sharp Coronado Hospital in Coronado, California. The other candidate is in stable condition at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
The above photo shows the kind of “surf immersion” training Mullen and the other soldier underwent during “Hell Week.”
A role model on and off the football field
“He’s one of the best kids I ever coached, on and off the football field. He was really one of the best kids we’ve ever had at Manalapan,” said Gurrieri, who knew Mullen very well.
He said the U.S. Navy came to his mother’s Manalapan home Saturday morning to tell her in person that her son had died during training. Gurrieri said she texted him shortly after.
“I was the football coach for a long time and I knew Kyle and his family pretty well. They said he passed about four hours after training (Friday). They said they couldn’t revive him. I know he was in the water that day. That’s really all they told her,” he said. “That’s all we know at this time.”
The coach said the young man’s mother “is devastated.”
“He has an older brother; she is very involved,” he said. “She drove him to every practice, was at every game. She was very dedicated to her son’s life.”
After getting that call Saturday morning, Gurrieri said it was on him to call all of Mullen’s former teammates and deliver the news.
“His teammates loved him. These guys are all 24 years old now and we’ve had grown young men crying hysterically all weekend,” said the coach. “Mullen was also in the National Honor Society and excelled at academics. His GPA was in the 4.2 to 4.4 range when he graduated. He was All State and led our team to its first state championship; he played defense. It’s a tragedy. When you look at his qualifications and who you want in a Navy SEAL, he’s the guy.”
Mullen did not talk about serving in the U.S. military while in high school, said Gurrieri. It was only in the past few years that Gurrieri said his former star player said he planned to become a Navy SEAL.
Mullen started his active duty training in the Navy in March of 2021.
After graduating from Manalapan High School, Mullen went on to play football for Yale University for a fifth year, and then Monmouth University, from which he graduated. He then enlisted as a Navy SEAL candidate. Here is his Monmouth University football profile.
Mullen played football and basketball for Monmouth University and was the MVP of the football team. He led the team to win a state title in 2014 and was named an All-Shore Defensive Player of the Year.
“We are all saddened by the unfortunate passing of Kyle Mullen,” said Monmouth University head football coach Kevin Callahan. “As a member of our 2019 championship team, he will be remembered not just as an excellent player, but also as an excellent person and a great teammate. He was highly motivated on the field, but his maturity, intelligence and concern for his fellow teammates is what stands out about Kyle. On behalf of President Leahy and the entire Monmouth University community, we wish to offer condolences to the Mullen family on their loss.”