Story by Cpl Jared Siniscalchi on 04/03/2019One sound heard often at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, CA is the ringing of a brass bell signifying a candidate has quit SEAL training.
That sound is stuck in Steven Mueller's head over two years now.
Mueller grew up in Walton, New York. Its population is roughly 3,000 and is an area many would say everyone knows everyone.
"It's a place where people don't stray too far away from," said Mueller.
After high school, Mueller felt he needed to get out of town and do something more, which he did because of his passion for soccer. He played at the collegiate level and also semi-professionally. He enjoyed the new lifestyle and the many opportunities to travel to places like Europe and throughout the United States. But at 20, Mueller sought a different path.
"I needed the military. I needed its guidance and structure," he said.
When Mueller began his search to join the military he went to see a Marine Corps recruiter about enlisting to be a reconnaissance Marine. The recruiter tried to persuade him into another MOS but Mueller wasn't interested.
Mueller chose to enlist in the Air Force as a Tactical Air Control Party Specialist (TACP). The school is one of the toughest the military offers. He completed grueling yearlong process going through TACP School, at Air Force Special Operations Command Base, Hurlburt Field, Florida to become a Tactical Air Control Party Specialist. Mueller was granted early release from the Air Force to pursue his dreams to become a Navy SEAL. So, he enlisted in the Navy with a reserved space at Basic Underwater Demolition and Seal Training, or BUD/S.
During phase 1 of BUD/S, where approximately 70 percent who attempt fail to complete, Mueller was seriously injured in the pool.
"I was scared of the water, after giving myself a concussion in the pool. It was no one's fault but my very own," said Mueller about his reason for ringing the bell. "I failed to commit to the pool years before I entered training."
Mueller is now a hospital corpsman with Combat Logistics Regiment 25. He spends his off time training vigorously in the pool for several hours a week.
He uses his time as a corpsman to train and make connections to help him get back to Coronado.
He was recently the recipient of the US Navy's Blue Jacket of the Quarter. This award recognized him as the top junior sailor in all of 2nd MLG and helped open doors for him to get back to SEAL training. "Being recognized on such a large scale has put me in contact with higher ups who understand my story. Many have said they are willing to write me recommendations to get back to SEAL training," he said.
Through rigors self-training and motivation, he hopes that he will have a chance in the future to rid the ringing from his head and become a SEAL.