SEAL Trainee, Former College Football Player, Dies After ‘Hell Week’

February 7, 2022Matt White

Kyle Mullen, 24, died after completing “Hell Week” in the Navy SEALs initial BUD/S selection training course Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. Another trainee was hospitalized. Mullen was an all-star college football player at Yale University. Photos by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt, Yale University.

A New Jersey man who died just hours after completing so-called “Hell Week” in Navy SEAL selection training was an all-star college football player whose high school coach remembered him as a “great, great kid on the field but even better off the field.”

The Navy identified Kyle Mullen, 24, of Manalapan, New Jersey, as the sailor who died Friday, Feb. 4, after completing the five-day training event known as Hell Week, in which candidates are put through physical training nearly 24 hours a day for five straight days, with almost no sleep or rest. No details on the cause of Mullen’s death were available except that he had completed Hell Week but was soon rushed to an off-post hospital.

seal hell week died
Students in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training on Sept. 14, 2007, Coronado, California. US Navy photo.

The event, which caps a month of intense physical training and testing, has long been considered the crux of SEAL selection, with attrition rates often over 50%. Those who push through the week still face months of arduous skills and further physical training. But trainees have long understood that their chances of graduating from the course, known as Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, or BUD/S, go way up if they finish Hell Week.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Seaman Mullen’s family for their loss,” Rear Adm. Hugh W. Howard III said in a statement.

Mullen died at Sharp Coronado Hospital on Friday. A second trainee who also completed Hell Week was hospitalized at roughly the same time. That trainee, who was not identified by the Navy, was reported in stable condition.

Mullen attended Yale University and played defensive lineman on the football team for three years. He was named second-team All-Ivy as a junior in 2017, and was elected captain by his teammates before what would have been his senior year in 2018. However, according to the Yale Daily News, he left Yale prior to his senior year while facing a misconduct investigation by university officials. The school’s Title IX office did not reply to an email from Coffee or Die Magazine asking about the case’s status.

In 2019, Mullen enrolled and played football at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. He joined the Navy in March 2021.

The Asbury Park Press reported that Ed Gurrieri coached Mullen at Manalapan High School.

“Great athlete but a better person — everybody loved him,” Gurrieri told the paper. “Probably one of the best kids I ever had. Great, great kid on the field but even better off the field.”

Gurrieri said Mullen was an honor society student who didn’t take shortcuts.

“Worked hard at everything he did, never gave less than 100 percent, got along with everybody,” Gurrieri said. seal hell week died

Read Next: Teacher Rescued by SEAL Team 6 Recounts Operation That Freed Her

Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

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