On Feb. 6, the U.S. Navy confirmed that Mullen, a SEAL candidate assigned to Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command, died at Sharp Coronado Hospital, Coronado, Calif., at 5:42 p.m. Feb. 4.
The Navy said that earlier on Feb. 4, Mullen and his Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL class successfully completed Hell Week, an assessment event during the first phase of the Navy SEAL attribute assessment and selection pathway.
The Navy said the cause of Mullen’s death is under investigation.
During the eulogy at Mullen’s funeral Mass, Mullen’s older brother T.J. began his remarks by saying, “I’m sure he would love to see the outpouring of support” the family has received over the past three weeks.
T.J. said Kyle, although he was his “little brother,” was actually twice his size and “larger than life.”
“Kyle impacted more people than any of us could begin to comprehend,” he said.
T.J. recalled playing Sharks and Minnows, baseball, dodgeball, manhunt, Capture the Flag, fishing and video games, and skiing with his brother and said, “We never failed to have a blast wherever we were.”
He said he can picture Kyle skipping around with a cone on his head and a KanJam on his waist.
“Kyle would not want to be remembered for the hard times … but laugh at the absurdities of life,” T.J. said.
He said Kyle did not regret joining the Navy for one minute and lived by his mother’s motto, “Everything is mind over matter, and if you don’t mind it, it don’t matter.”
He said Kyle considered the SEALs to be the “best of the best” and said his brother “never learned the meaning of the word ‘quit.’ ”
He said his brother knew death was a possibility – and that nightmare is now a reality, T.J. said – but added, “Kyle may not have had fortune, but he had a life full of honor.”
T.J. said his brother loved the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. He said Kyle believed that even in life’s darkest moments, one can find the higher purpose and meaning of life.
“He wanted to fight the dark forces that confront our world,” T.J. said. “Not even the cruelty of death can extinguish the light that is my brother’s life.”
Mullen’s mother Regina spoke next and thanked the community, family members, friends and people around the United States for their support.
“I can’t believe the stories I have heard about my son. He was definitely the light of my life and his brothers’ and my family’s and many others,” she said.
She recounted having to pull a poster off Kyle’s wall in California and laughed because he was not allowed to tape anything to the wall and some paint chipped off, but the quote said, “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”
Mullen said she found a handwritten note Kyle wrote dated March 19, 2010, when he was 12 years old, analyzing Henry Ford’s quote, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
She said Kyle related Ford’s words to sports and how if you tell yourself you are going to win it is most likely going to happen because you will have the confidence and motivation to not worry about other people stopping you from scoring.
Mullen said Kyle related the quote to Barack Obama, who pursued his goals even though people thought it was impossible for a Black man to become president. But, she said, Obama got a great education and “kept his eye on the prize.”
And she said Kyle related the words back to Ford, who followed his own quote and although he probably failed a few times, he did not let those failures stop him.
Wearing blue, which was Kyle’s favorite color, Mullen said she was one of the people who “definitely tried” to talk her son out of joining the Navy. She said she did not want him to leave. However, he wanted to save others.
“He is definitely my hero,” she said.
She said Kyle was very happy in California and said he made amazing friends, “good dudes” as he called them, and she was able to meet his friends and hear “amazing” stories about her son.
Mullen said she spoke with Kyle on the day he died, saying he was happy he did the training.
“I’m good, Mom, I love you,” she recalled him saying. “We will all miss him so much. I love him so much. I am always eternally proud of him.”
In an obituary posted by the Freeman Funeral Home, Manalapan, Mullen’s family wrote, “Kyle will be remembered for the countless ways in which he brought joy to family, friends and all those who encountered him throughout his life. Over the past few days, we have been awestruck at the outpouring of love and support we have received.
” … Kyle has a seemingly endless impact on this world, touching the lives of many. Everywhere we turn is another friend or neighbor who has a story about how Kyle touched or inspired their lives.
“From cutting shapes on the dance floor, to assisting the elderly or disabled at All In A Day Adult Medical Day Care, to leading teammates to victory at Manalapan High School, Yale University and Monmouth University, Kyle put his whole heart into everything he did.
“While we are devastated at Kyle’s loss, we could not be more proud. Kyle dreamed of serving others and enlisted in the Navy with the hopes of joining the best of the best – the Navy SEALs. He would not settle for anything less.
“Kyle was exactly where he wanted to be in life when he was with his fellow seamen-warriors-classmates at Coronado. He took on every challenge and failure was not an option as he strived toward reaching his goal of passing Hell Week and receiving his brown shirt.
“Kyle did not believe in defeat or giving up. … He took on any challenge, overcame every obstacle and encouraged others to do the same. … While we are suffering now, Kyle would want us all to come together and not only survive, but thrive and live life to the fullest.
“Kyle’s spirit lit up the world with joy, compassion, courage and strength. The cruelty of death cannot extinguish, let alone dim the light that Kyle’s life has brought into this world. He will continue to inspire and motivate us always,” Mullen’s family wrote.
Mullen was a member of the Class of 2015 at Manalapan High School.
Donations to the Navy SEAL Foundation in Mullen’s honor may be made at www.navysealfoundation.org
The foundation helps to support SEALs and their families.
Donations may also be made to the GiveButter campaign at https://givebutter.com/kylemullen
All funds received will be used on a celebration of life for Kyle with excess funds being used to support any future memorials, scholarships or programs his family plans to establish so Kyle will continue to have a positive impact in the years to come, according to his obituary.
Newspaper Media Group Managing Editor Jennifer Amato contributed to this article.