Patrick and Teri Caserta, parents of Brandon Caserta tell the whole story of what actually happened…
Our son, Petty Officer Third-class (PO3) Brandon Patrick Caserta was 17 years of age when he joined the US Navy in May of 2015, and left for boot camp in September of that year. His plan was to become an elite Navy SEAL. We were so proud of him. During Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD)/S SEAL training at the naval amphibious base in San Diego, CA, Brandon began having severe pains in his right leg.
He went to the dispensary three or four times, and each time was told by the doctors that he only had severe case of shin splints, that was all. Brandon conveyed to his doctors that he knew what shin splints were because of all the running he did leading up to entering the Navy. Brandon had shin splints before, but tried in vain to get the doctors to understand, this pain was different.
Brandon kept asking for x-rays of his leg, but Navy physicians discounted Brandon’s assessment of his pain and labeled the problem as being nothing more than shin-splints. Brandon’s request for x-rays were denied. He was told to suck it up and get back out in the sand.
Shin splints are usually caused by repeated trauma to the connective muscle tissue surrounding the tibia. They are a common injury affecting athletes who practice running sports or other forms of physical activity, including running and jumping.
Shin-splints are characterized by general pain in the lower region of the leg between the knee and the ankle. Shin-splint injuries are specifically located in the middle to lower thirds of the anterior or lateral part of the tibia, which is the larger of two bones comprising the lower leg.
On May 6, 2017, Brandon was 2 1/2 weeks into the Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD)/S SEAL training doing what they call “boats on head” when he suddenly collapsed from excruciating pain in his leg. Even with the searing pain, Brandon got back up and ran back under the boat to help carry some of the load, but collapsed again, this time passing out from the enormous pain.
Was Brandon transported to a hospital? With careless disregard for the pain he was experiencing as he slowly regained consciousness, Brandon was thrown into the back of a filthy pickup truck and was taken to the famous “dropout bell.”
Seal recruits are told that at any point during their training, they can ring the bell and be voluntarily dropped from Seal training then immediately transfer out.
Writhing in pain and being taunted by his “shipmates,” Brandon refused to ring the bell. Even with all the incredible pain cascading through his body, he had the presence of mind and drive to succeed.
Brandon emphatically refused to ring the bell. His “shipmates” continued the taunts saying he was not “SEAL worthy,” and that he needed to “tap out.”
But, Brandon continued to resist the urge to ring the bell, yelling that he could continue. Frustrated that Brandon would not yield to the taunts, someone decided to ring the bell for him. Doing this was a clear violation of policy and protocol, a court-martial offense.
He was so upset and hurt that one of his shipmates rung the bell, then claimed Brandon had rung the bell. Brandon did not ring the bell, someone else did.
As his parents, we were so angry and sad, because we knew how much being a Navy Seal meant to Brandon. All his hopes and dreams were destroyed by someone who took it upon himself to ring the “drop out” bell. Brandon was immediately transferred to San Diego’s 32nd Street Naval Base.
He went to the hospital clinic at the 32nd Street Naval Base and described to the doctors what happened. He pleaded with them for an x-ray and the reluctant doctor finally directed x-rays be taken. The doctor told Brandon he would contact him if he found any issue with his leg or joints, but not to expect any phone call.
He let Brandon walk out of the clinic, but minutes later, the doctor called Brandon and told him he had a broken tibia and to immediately return for medical treatment. Brandon also had Hemoptysis (coughing up blood) and pneumonia.
Brandon had been running twenty (20) miles a day, running with boats on head and running with telephone poles all on a broken leg, but was not considered “Seal Worthy.”
He was denied x-rays four different times which would have proven he had a broken leg and he would not have been kicked out of SEAL training. His broken leg would have been addressed, and after some convalescent leave, put back into Seal training when declared fit for duty.
KICKED OUT OF SEAL TRAINING
The day Brandon was kicked out of BUD/S, May 6, 2017, Seal instructors drowned James Lovelace, and almost drowned three more. Brandon found that out, from either his father Patrick (retired 22-year Navy Vet in Navy Command & Control Systems, NCCS), or a Navy Counselor, that he could probably get reinstated into the SEAL program.
Brandon was no longer interested, because he knew the seal instructors would make his life a living hell if he returned to complete his training. After the drowning of James Lovelace, Brandon found out the instructors had really eased up on the training and everyone made it through Hell Week for the next several companies involved in training at the time.
When you drop or get kicked out of SEAL training you have to pick another job (rating). During this process, you will be at the mercy of the Navy. In other words, the day you get to pick, the Navy provides a list of available ratings for that particular hour, based on your Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ABBAS) score received from before enlistment. Brandon scored above average (70).
When this happens, there are between two and five rates (jobs) that come up and the sailor is only given thirty minutes to decide. Yes, they keep track of the time. They tell you how many minutes you have left and if you don’t choose one, they choose one for you. Brandon had five choices he could choose from. Most of them were basically deck seaman ratings.
He called his father for advice on what rating to pick, since his dad had twenty-two (22) years of service. His father recommended Aviation Electrician was the best choice out of the list. Brandon was not happy about being forced to select a new rating. His heart was still with the Seals.
Brandon was ordered to Pensacola, Florida in June 2017 for four months of “A-School” training to become an Aviation Electrician. On November 28, 2016, Brandon went to “C School” for additional training that was specific for H60-S helicopters in Norfolk, VA. He graduated from “C School” on January 31, 2017, and officially checked into Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 (HSC-28) on February 1, 2017.
Brandon’s first day at HSC-28, his Leading Petty Officer (LPO) AE1 Jared Brose, condescendingly called him a “BUD/S Dud” in front of everyone. From then on AE1 Jared Brose took every opportunity to berate Brandon for dropping out from Seal training. It wasn’t a welcoming introduction to HSC-28.
From the very beginning of reporting for duty at HSC-28, the overbearing Brose berated and bullied Brandon. AE1 Brose legally abandoned his rank by his continual harassment and haranguing of Brandon Caserta. Every time Brandon got his work done early, he asked what else he could do. He saw it as an opportunity to help and learn new things. But, every time he asked, Brose disdainfully told Brandon to “go make himself useful somewhere else.”
AE1 Brose chronically called Brandon disparaging names and made fun of his off-duty attire and activities. Brandon, was a Seal at heart and would use every opportunity to strengthen his body. Instead of drive a car or take public transpiration, Bandon loved riding his bicycle. AE1 Brose enjoyed making fun of Brandon for riding a bicycle, wearing a helmet. Brandon was further castigated for cycling with a backpack full of weights. AE1 Brose got sadistic pleasure singling out Brandon in front of everyone. And to ingratiate themselves with the boss, others piled on with additional ridicule.
AE1 Brose took every opportunity to lambaste and chastise Brandon which included mail call. When distributing mail, Brose would throw Brandon’s packages we sent him for Christmas with the juvenile retorts about being mama’s boy. AE1 Brose was and probably still remains a most despicable person who should have been relieved, charged and dishonorably discharged from the Navy. His brand of “leadership” was indeed dishonorable and has brought discredit upon the Navy.
THE LAST WEEK OF BRANDON’S LIFE
The first assignment Brandon was sent to in HSC-28 was as a clerk in the geedunk bar. A Gedunk bar (or geedunk) bar is the canteen or snack bar of a large vessel or squadron where candy and other food items are sold.
The term was first recorded in Leatherneck Magazine in 1931. A service member who works in the geedunk bar is traditionally referred to only as the “geedunk guy,” or more informally as a “geedunkaroo”. The term was popular during World War II.
At HSC-28, as with other units in the military, they do not always allow personnel a break for lunch or dinner so they have the geedunk stand so people can grab a bite to eat without leaving their unit. A geedunk is manned by 1-3 people, and this is where Brandon found himself working.
Brandon was trained to become an aviation electrician. The cost of his training was in the neighborhood of $100,000. He was then sent to another school which cost the tax-payers an additional $75,000. If one was to multiply $175,000 times three people operating a geedunk stand, the tax payers being screwed as much as $525,000 U.S. sailors to be candy salesmen. Did you know that virtually every single aviation squadron has a geedunk stand being operated by rated personnel.
Geedunk work is supposed to be a 90-day assignment; but since Brandon was rated an aviation electrician, he should have never been assigned to a geedunk stand. Logic would demand that he be assigned to the appropriate division for his rating from the moment he arrived.
On June 30, 2017, Brandon was assigned to the flight line, part of the team of people which help to launch and recover aircraft. Again, Brandon was a rated Aviation Electrician Mate, and shouldn’t have been assigned there either. But, trying to make lemonade out of lemons being thrown at him, Brandon embarked on a six-month training regimen to become a qualified plane captain.
Brandon had completed 72% of his training to achieve his qualification as a plane captain when he had a bicycle accident breaking his right clavicle (collarbone). He was returned to the geedunk stand to sell more candy while convalescing on a limited duty chit.
While he was convalescing in the Geedunk, the computerized Advanced Skills Management (ASM) system reset, discarding all of Brandon’s work and test scores dropping him from 72% complete to ZERO. Once he was cleared to go back on duty, he had to start from the beginning for his plane captain’s qualification. Even though he was a graduate of the Navy’s Aviation Electricians school, he was sent back to the line shack and told to start all over again.
On May 18, 2018, Brandon received a Record of Counseling (counseling chit) for not having his PC Qualification done. He was warned that he had until June 15th to be board ready. The counseling form stated, “you have 180 days to complete all pre-requisite qualification and obtain your Plane Captain Qualification.” Even though this was a voluntary designation, the Navy was bearing down hard on Brandon to obtain his plane captain qualification.
When he was not “board ready” AE1 Brose and CPO Shelah Hennard, decided to punish Brandon with some Extra Military Instruction (EMI) for not having his PC Qualification completed in time.
1) The reason for this was “Failure to comply with HSC/HSM Qualification requirements of Plane Captain qualification obtainment in a six-month period.”
2) “EMI not to exceed two hours from the completion of end of shift and not be performed on weekends, holidays, and authorized command wide special liberty days.”
So, Brandon was working his regular hours for work from 7:00 a.m. until 7 p.m. and then doing 2 hours of EMI every night after work. Brandon found himself working fourteen (14) hour days.
Brandon asked permission to go to medical for some lab work for his flight physical that he needed to submit for his aircrewman application package.
Brose snapped back, “No, call and reschedule. I’m not going to let you work on another rating when you haven’t done shit for me and never got your plane captain qualification completed!”
Brandon, doing as he was trained attempted to use the chain of command and sought help from NCC1 Remmy Spence. But, Spence barked, “get me your LPO.” Unfortunately, Brandon’s appeal to Remmy Spence didn’t work, Spence really didn’t want to deal with it. His request to go to medical was denied by both Spence and AE1 Brose.
Brandon sent a text to the only Navy man he trusted which was his father on how to deal with the problem. His father told him no can deny a person medical procedures even if it’s for a blood draw. Brandon’s father Patrick placed a phone call to Spence, but had to leave a message. The twenty-two year Navy veteran also asked NC1 Spence to allow his son to get his blood-work done at the medical clinic.
Brandon’s father left another message for NC1 Spence stating, “Please tell me you are not involved in any this. Please call me.” The phone rang and Patrick Caserta thought it was Spence returning his call. Patrick Caserta answered the phone and the person on the phone said he was the Command Master Chief but did not give his name.
Patrick thought he was talking to the actual master chief of the command, or Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEA). The caller was extremely rude. The caller proclaimed there were fifty chiefs in the command and felt it was inappropriate for him to call. Patrick told him he was concerned for Brandon’s well-being and general welfare.
The person presenting himself as the “CMC” told Patrick Caserta that Brandon is useless to him without the plane captain’s qualification and that he had to deploy people twice because Brandon didn’t have his qualification. It was a guilt trip that strongly implied Brandon was letting his country down.
The caller said he would get Brandon to medical, that he would take care of Brandon, using the terminology “I’ve got your back brother.” He promised him he would help Brandon. Patrick told him about AE1 Brose and how he was abusive to Brandon and encouraged that behavior should cease.
June 19, 2018, the Maintenance Master Chief, Pete Lerette (Lerette) pulled Brandon and Chief Hennard into and office. Lerette was angry Brandon didn’t have his PC qualification and that his father had called the command. Lerette also said the command can deny him medical and that they were being nice letting him go to complete the lab work. Master Chief Lerette raised his voice to a level where it could be characterized as screaming, and during this one-way conversation saliva was spewing out of the master chief’s mouth.
Lerette had a timeline of Brandon’s time at the command, saying that the treatment he has received at HSC-28 was overly nice and more than fair. They agreed that Brandon was to be board ready by July 20, 2018. Lerette also told Brandon that he wasn’t going to become an aircrewman if he didn’t achieve his plane captain’s qualification. Ironically, there were many others who had not achieved their plane captain’s qualification and had been with the command for as much as three years.
After receiving Lerette’s berating, Brandon texted Patrick and told him he did not speak with the CMC, he spoke with the Maintenance Master Chief, Lerette. If Patrick knew he wasn’t speaking to the CMC, he never would have talked to him. Basically, Master Chief Lerette lied about who he really was. He wasn’t the command master chief, he was the maintenance master chief.
It’s likely Master Chief Lerette deceived Brandon’s father fearing that Patrick might call the commanding officer of the squadron CDR Whitmer and expose their bullying, blackmailing, mistreating, abusive power and leadership and for refusing to let Brandon go to medical along with not allowing Brandon to go cross-rate for aircrewman.
AE1 Brose was selected to go on deployment and left the command to go on the ship. With Brose gone, and the bullying and hazing subsided. Brandon decided he wanted to cross rate to become an aircrewman. He understandably wanted out of that command so bad he could taste it. Brandon was even willing to extend another six years to attend aircrew school just to get out of that command.
Brandon said his command would not approve a SEAL package so he decided he would be better off and able to get the command’s endorsement for Aircrewman since his command needed good aircrewmen. He knew the command stopped another person who tried to put in a SEAL package and was denied. Brandon sought help from NC1 (Navy Counselor) Remmy Spence for help in achieving his goal.
Spence was not interested in helping Brandon at all. Brandon was able to obtain a flight physical, eye exam, and blood-work. He was also able to get his Class II Swim Qualification, no problem for someone who was in seal training. Brandon got his package submitted for the rating of aircrewman and was selected. Brandon had orders for aircrewman school and was to leave HSC-28 on February 18, 2018. He was so excited to finally be leaving that God-awful command.
On November 9, 2017, Brandon had another bicycle mishap and was taken to the hospital. He had a broken right clavicle. NC1 Spence cancelled Brandon’s orders for aircrewman school. He said Brandon couldn’t be transferred not being fit for duty.
Spence told Brandon once he is fit for duty, he would streamline his package and told Brandon he would be leaving within two weeks. Looking back, we should have known this wasn’t right because Brandon was transferred with a broken leg to school in Florida. The Navy was lying once again.
Brandon went back to purgatory, the geedunk shop to sell candy until he was fit for duty, March 28, 2018. When Brandon was fit for duty, he went to Spence to have him streamline his package for aircrew school. Spence told Brandon he called the community manager, who said Brandon would have to do the entire package over.
This was a blatant lie. Patrick called the community manager after the incident only to find out he never received any calls from HSC-28. Spence was lying to Brandon over and over again.
In January 2018, AE1 Brose was kicked off of the deployment, because of his bullying, hazing, abusive demeanor and dubious leadership skills. This is when the worst thing happened, Abusive Brose was returned to HSC-28, and put back in charge by Maintenance Master Chief Pete Lerette.
Lerette stated that AE1 Brose was a “leadership challenge and they were going to be watching him very closely” in his statement for the Command Line of Duty Investigation. Well, that never happened. The sadistic Brose continued to bully and abuse people he was in-charge of.
What he enjoyed most was making life a living hell for his favorite whipping boy, Bandon Caserta. The abusive Brose was going to make sure Brandon never got out of the squadron and that he would never attend aircrew school.
THE NAVY DEMANDS BRANDON’S
DRIVER’S LICENSE AND DEBIT CARD
Sadistic Brose told Brandon that he was useless to him without his PC qualification. But, Brandon wanted to be an aircreman, he didn’t want to launch aircraft, he wanted to be part of the aircrew. So the harassment of Brandon became unrelenting. On June 21, 2018, Brose asked to see Brandon’s I.D.
Brandon reached for his military I.D., but the sadistic AE1 Brose said “no, your state ID”. Brandon said “I don’t have that”. Brose said, “In our system it says you have a driver’s license. Call the DMV/family and get the information”.
Brandon called his father and then told Brose “my father is looking for it”. Brose said “okay, write down your address, full name, last, first, and middle and date of birth”. Brandon complies. Later in the day Hennard and Chief Doug Delasandro (Delasandro) pulled Brandon into Maintenance Control and had the Arizona DMV website pulled up.
Delasandro starts typing in Brandon’s information. Nothing came up at first. Then they use the ID number that’s in the system to search, all in front of 5 or so other Chiefs. They start asking for more and more information, Brandon said it all even the last 4 of his social in front of everybody with no hesitation.
Then it comes time to pay for the I.D. Delasandro asked him if he had $12. Brandon said “in my wallet?” Delasandro said, “No, in your account”. Brandon said, “yes”. Delsadandro said, “Go get your debit card.” Brandon complied again without hesitation because he viewed it as a military order. Brandon returned and Delasandro asks, “do you need this $12?” Brandon said “no sir”.
Delasandro takes Brandon’s debit card and starts typing in his information and charges $12 to his account. Delasandro prints off the receipt, gives Brandon his debit card back saying, “looks like you now have a driver’s license, it will be here in less than fifteen days”. Is it actually legal for any one in Brandon’s chain of command to order him to produce his debit card, and further order him to have and use a driver’s license?
On June 22, 2018, right after work, Brandon received a counseling notice, that recommended he be sent before a Disciplinary Review Board (DRB), because he had in his possession a temporary driver’s license and failed to stand a watch as the duty driver. It didn’t matter to the Navy that Brandon lacked enough experience to safely drive anything.
Apparently, they didn’t care if Brandon was involved in a traffic accident where people may have been killed. It was more fun to harass Brandon for not possessing a driver’s license, that to find someone else to be the duty driver. Brandon was their whipping boy.
First of all, the Navy is not entitled to his driver’s license nor is HSC-28. The only reason Brandon had a driver’s license is because the license cost the same as a State ID in Arizona so we, (his parents), recommended that Brandon obtain a driver’s license and just use it as an ID card.
His recruiter also told Brandon it would be good for him to get a driver’s license or a State ID so he had something besides his military ID to show for ID purposes. We felt it made logical sense for Brandon to obtain a driver’s license and not just a plain ID card, just in case he found himself in an emergency situation where he had to drive.
YOU WILL DRIVE, AND THAT’S AN ORDER.
WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF YOU KNOW HOW TO DRIVE OR NOT!
Brandon hadn’t driven alone since he was in driving school which was almost four years prior, and rarely drove at all. Brandon never had auto insurance and was never on our policy as a licensed driver because he simply chose not to drive a vehicle. He always felt very uncomfortable driving and he didn’t trust other drivers at all. Aside from his anxiousness about driving, Brandon preferred the health benefits of riding a bicycle.
No one can force you to drive, an only a peace officer can legally demand to see your driver’s license. The Navy actually wanted Brandon to drive an 18-passenger van and/or a full-size pickup in the state of Virginia. His license wasn’t valid because it had the wrong address. This is why the Navy ordered him to obtain his driver’s license from the State of Arizona.
In the Line of Duty Investigation, it was stated that Brandon failed to maintain a valid driver’s license. This was a lie. He had a valid driver’s license, but chose not to carry the card with him because he didn’t drive. The Navy as under the impression they can order people to get a driver’s license and determine how and when a driver’s license is used. The other issue is insurance. Are military personnel permitted to drive on states roads in Virginia without insurance?
Even though the government is self-insured, does that give the Navy the right to force someone to retain a driver’s license and drive on state roads without insurance? Giving Brandon the keys to an 18-passenger van would have put everyone in danger who were in the vehicle because he lacked the experience of driving. The Navy already has statistics of how many sailors get into traffic accidents right after a long deployment on the ship because they have not been driving.
The Navy never took the time to understand that Brandon had a phobia about driving, and to force him to drive was a dangerous thing to do. We, as his parents, couldn’t get him past his fear of driving. We never forced him to drive, because we knew he would eventually drive at some point when he was ready. Brandon viewed driving a vehicle as an awesome responsibility. It’s a shame more people didn’t adopt the same attitude, we might have fewer highway deaths.
Riding a bicycle was no different. Brandon refused to ride a bicycle until he was in 9th grade. We bought him several bikes over the years which only collected dust. One day, he suddenly said he wanted a bicycle. All the bikes in the garage were not suited to his height, so we purchased yet another bicycle.
With supreme enthusiasm, he began riding his bike more than fifteen miles a day, and seldom needed us to take him anywhere in the car. Everyone who knew him in the Navy was fully aware that he rode his bike and didn’t drive or even have a car.
The Navy came to the conclusion that Brandon’s resistance to driving a car was resistance towards authority. They were bound an determine to force him to drive whether he liked it or not and harass him for not driving a car. In the testosterone drenched world of the military, you were not considered a man if you didn’t do certain things… like drive a car.
CLIMATE-SURVEY REVEALED TROUBLING SIGNS WITHIN THE COMMAND
HSC-28 conducted a Command Climate Survey in June 2018. There were several people who wrote about the abusive leadership, abusive behavior, bullying, manipulating, blackmailing within the command’s leadership, In fact, HSC-28 fostered a hostile and toxic work environment by failing disciplining people like AE1 Brose who got his jollies by demeaning and haranguing people.
Brandon put a letter in the CO’s suggestion box on June 18, 2018, describing the bullying tactics of AE1 Brose that he and others were forced to endure. On Friday June 22, 2018, after receiving news he was to be sent to a Disciplinary Review Board (DRB), Brandon called his father. His father and I spoke with Brandon most of the night, and again almost all-day Saturday, June 23rd, then exchanged text messages all day Sunday, trying to reassure him he was not going to a DRB without us being there.
We were making arrangements to attend if needed. His father Patrick told Brandon he would be his legal representation until we could find an appropriate attorney to place on retainer. It seemed so incredibly stupid that we were being forced to obtain an attorney because the Navy didn’t like the fact our son didn’t drive a car and didn’t carry a driver’s license.
FINALLY DRIVEN TO THE BREAKING POINT
No one had any notion that Brandon was considering suicide to escape the unrelenting harassment he was receiving in the Navy. Even though on the phone he was obviously stressed out by the dogged harassment to which he was subjected, he gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life.
We reassured Brandon that he was not in this alone and that we were not going to let anything unlawful happen to him no matter what. He talked about places he wanted to show us when we came out Virginia. Obviously, something really bad happened on Monday, June 25, 2018, to put him over the edge.
Brandon worked all day on Monday, signing off on other people’s qualifications. He told a shipmate he was hungry and went into the hanger to grab is his cranial helmet, the device normally worn by people working on the tarmac which protects the head, but primarily the hearing from jet engine noise.
He walked out on the flight line towards the plane captain who was either launching or retrieving a helicopter. The military helicopter sat on the tarmac turning an burning, the tail rotor is spinning at roughly five times the speed of the main rotor.
Brandon yelled at the plane captain over the jet engine noise and said, “I’m sorry for what you are about to see.” With that, Brandon threw off his cranial device and ran right into the spinning tail-rotor blades. He missed at first, but then jumped again to finally make lethal contact with the helicopter’s spinning tail-rotor blades. No one person attempted to stop him. No one attempted to administer first aid. Everyone just ran away.
suicide murder was complete. We were told the horrific incident was captured on video. We have not seen it because we don’t want to see it. We have a feeling the Navy doesn’t want anyone to see it either. We simply do not have the courage to view the horrific death of our own flesh and blood.
NAVY GOES INTO COVER-UP MODE
Within minutes of Brandon’s death, someone from the command obtained Brandon’s cell phone. Realizing they needed his fingerprint to gain access to his phone they picked up his lifeless hand, and pressed his finger on the screen to gain access to his phone from his fingerprint. This act could also be on the video as well, we are not sure, but we know for a fact, that Brandon’s cell phone was used immediately following his death.
Pardon our suspicion, but we believe the Navy was in cover-up mode only minutes after our son died on the tarmac. We have the phone bill that reveals data was being used immediately following his death. What was on his phone the Navy wanted to destroy?
Brandon may have left a video or other information like names, times, dates, recordings or other information. He could have left a suicide note that described in detail what he was told that drove him to the point he felt he had no alternative but to take his own life. Things were deleted from his cellphone to protect people who drove him to commit suicide.
Several things had to have been said to Brandon that day or he wouldn’t have waited all day to do what he did. There are many rumors out there that Brandon reached out to the chain of command and told them he was depressed and he was told to go back to work and that he was fine. Although he never told us this, it’s more likely than not that this really happened the rumor came from people in the command, not us.
No one can tell us what Brandon did on Monday the 8 hours he worked. They claimed Brandon worked all day yet he disappeared for a while and no one knows where he went or what he did, but he did not leave the command. His disappearance fits the time line between the first call Patrick made to Command Master Chief David Tokarski and when Tokarski called him back.
It’s likely that Brandon was threatened, maybe blackmailed. It’s possible someone told him your daddy can’t help you, and we are going to get you a dishonorable discharge and kick you out of the Navy. Yes, it’s all speculation, but it’s amazing how no one can account for Brandon that day and yet they come up with fake stories. They killed the hardest, best worker in the command who possessed a Magic Johnson smile and infectious upbeat personality.
Every time Brandon began to get ahead, the Navy or a twist of fate would plunge his head underwater. They made him sell candy, when he should have been using a multi-meter to zero in on electrical problems. He never spent one-minute working in the job capacity the tax payers paid for him to go to school for. It’s a story of a total waste of taxpayer money, and of a human life.
On Monday, June 25, Patrick called the command three times asking for the actual Command Master Chief (CMC) David Tokarski. This was a scheduled call between us and Brandon. Patrick told Brandon over the weekend he would call Tokarski and talk with him about the multiple chits and treatment of Brandon.
At 12:04, Brandon’s father Patrick Caserta spoke with CMC Tokarski and told him he was concerned about Brandon’s welfare and well-being. He explained to him about the driver’s license. Patrick told Tokarski that he represents Brandon, and that his son will not be going to any Board without him being present.
Brandon’s father made it crystal clear, “Since you ‘re not listening to me I’m going to put it to you point blank, you don’t need a driver’s license to join the Navy, you don’t need one to be in the command and you don’t need one to be in his rating and the command is not entitled to his driver’s license, period.”
He also told Tokarski about the illegal search on the computer, and that his supervisors stole his debit card to pay for a new driver’s license that he did not need. Tokarski, in an effort to end the phone call said he had to call him back because he had people in his office. Tokarski said he would call him back in a few minutes.
One of the people in his office at that time was Spence. We received the Command Line of Duty Investigation which states that right before Patrick called, Spence was in Tokarski’s office asking if it was really necessary for Brandon to be sent to a DRB. Spence felt Brandon was telling the truth, he does not drive and only uses a driver’s license for ID purposes only.
CMC Tokarski berated Patrick on the phone and said “All this goes away if Brandon goes to medical and claims that he is claustrophobic”. Patrick told him it wasn’t claustrophobia, it was vehophobia, a fear of driving. This was when Tokarski told Brandon’s father he had someone in his office and would call him back.
Tokarski finally called Patrick back at 12:29 p.m. Arizona time. Tokarski, who apparently has a one-track-mind again said “All this goes away if Brandon goes to medical and claims he is claustrophobic.” He also told Patrick that he told another senior chief to order Brandon to medical and claim he is stricken with claustrophobia.
There is no evidence this occurred. Tokarski kept telling Patrick that a Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) is nonjudicial punishment. Patrick told him that Brandon is not going to any board without him as he is Brandon’s representation. Patrick also said that he had no justification to convene a DRB for Brandon.
He also told CMC Tokarski, if anything, we have charges against the command for what they did with his driver’s license especially with Delasandro, Hennard and Brose. He did not care that Brandon’s debit card had been stolen (forced to provide under threat of legal action) to pay for a driver’s license that we had at home, nor did he care that they conducted an illegal search.
Patrick said that this whole thing was stupidity because Brandon having a driver’s license had nothing to do with anything. Patrick repeatedly told CMC Tokarski the command did not have any entitlement to his state issued driver’s license.
WHAT DID THE COMMAND MASTER CHIEF CONVEY TO BRANDON
WHICH PUSHED HIM TO END HIS LIFE?
The time between the two calls and actually talking to him on the phone turned out to be precious minutes. CMC Tokarski could have told Brandon everything was going to be fine and not to worry about it. Not likely!
Instead, it is believed that he either personally went up to Brandon or had someone tell Brandon words to this effect, “no matter how many times your daddy calls, he can’t help you and we will take you to a Captain’s Mast (non-judicial punishment NJP), and oh, by the way you’re not going to aircrew school either, and you will get your plane captain qualification, then we are deploying you”.
This is the only thing that possibly could have made Brandon go over the edge to have the guts to do what he did. If we any idea that Brandon was suicidal when I called the first time, we would have immediately had someone go get him and safe guard him. The fact that Brandon was alive on the first call and dead on the second call proves that something happened during the two calls.
Tokarski’s official statement in the Command Line of Duty Investigation states that Patrick called because we lost touch with Brandon. He lied to cover up the fact that he could have stopped this whole thing. We did not lose contact with Brandon, Patrick never said that. Tokarski’s interview with NCIS does not match the Command Line of Duty interview.
Tokarski never talks about the actual reason Patrick called in either interview, and he never mentions the claustrophobic garbage that he came up with and the fact that he was arguing with Patrick about the driver’s license issue. Tokarski was trying to bring a young man to Captain’s Mass for having a driver’s license that apparently, he thought he was entitled to.
The first thing out of my mouth was “I am afraid for the well-being and welfare of my son”. This man murdered our son. He takes no responsibility for it. He lied on two official statements and is actually trying to blame Patrick for calling the command. Tokarski’s behavior is unacceptable and irresponsible. Brandon would be a live today if he actually cared for the sailors under his responsibility.
Two days after Brandon’s death, AE1 Brose was overheard saying derogatory comments about Brandon and about the incident on the tarmac. He was reassigned to the Wing. He now works for the base chaplain. AE1 Brose also was taking bets on when another sailor was going to commit suicide. He thought it was all entertaining and funny.
The command will take action against Brose for derogatory statements while they are under investigation, but when they are not under investigation, they will turn their heads to bullying, poor leadership and abusive behavior and encourage it.
GATE GUARDS ORDERED TO BLOCK THE PARENTS
FROM ATTENDING THEIR OWN SON’S MEMORIAL SERVICE
When a family member dies on active duty, they assign a local Casualty Assistance Calls Officer (CACO) who is tasked with informing relatives of the death and circumstances surrounding the death. Chief Eric Relyea was designated as the CACO officer who was extremely nice and very helpful.
When someone from the Navy appears at your door in a full dress uniform, you know in the pit of your stomach he isn’t there to deliver good news. The shock and grief was overwhelming. Our initial response was to tell him to go away and leave us alone. We wouldn’t let him in our home, but he respectfully pressed us to allow him entry in order to convey additional information.
It seemed that we had no choice. He was not going to go away until we heard him out. His uniform made it all so real and our pain upon hearing of our son’s death was unbearable. Relyea relayed to us the Navy’s version of what happened.
The bitter news to know our wonderful son had died was bad enough but to hear that he took his own life was so deeply painful because we knew of the relentless harassment he had been subjected to. We were both sobbing uncontrollably. It was unconscionable to think our son died over a damn driver’s license and his failure to gain enough driving experience to stand the watch as a duty driver.
Brandon’s father Patrick immediately got on the phone and called the Commanding Officer, Duane Whitmer. The first words out of Patrick’s mouth was “you murdered my son”. Whitmer was at a loss for words. He cared more about his career than he did about the relentless harassment that drove our son Brandon to commit suicide. It seemed like he was trying to think up a way to ameliorate our grief and cover up the harassment that occurred before our son took his life.
Whitmer proudly said there was going to be a JAG investigation. Patrick told him he wanted to be interviewed for that and Whitmer responded, “you want to be interviewed? I can make that happen.” It as a lie, we were never interviewed and we had pertinent and germane knowledge of what lead up to our son taking his life.
We were too distraught to fill out the paperwork the CACO officer was requesting. so he returned the following day. Chief Relyea told us that the command was holding a memorial for Brandon that Friday. He said that Navy units hold memorial services so everyone can get closure.
We were not officially notified by the command about the memorial service, nor were we invited to it. As a matter of fact, we were told by people in HSC-28 that Commander Duane Whitmer gave our names to the gate guards with instructions to block us from entering the base. Brandon’s father Patrick is a 22-year Navy Senior Chief veteran who has every right to be on the base, but especially to attend any service or ceremony involving our deceased son.
PERNICIOUS LIES OF THE COMMANDING OFFICER
Commander Whitmer told the entire command that we were bad people and that we were going to get them back for what they did to our son. This was not said nor talked about to the Whitmer. Patrick has said from day one that they would be held accountable for what they did and failed to do. The numerous failures of taking prudent action to intervene and eliminate the relentless harassment of Brandon are aggravating factors which bring all of this to the level of at least manslaughter.
While Chief Relyea was at our home, he told us that the command called him and told him that he needs to tell the parents that Brandon had an accident, but was still alive and in the hospital. Chief Relyea admitted honestly that he had seen several news segments from Norfolk stating that there was a mishap and the sailor involved in the mishap was deceased.
While Chief Relyea was on his way to deliver the bad news to us, he had to pull over is automobile and call the command to verify if Brandon was dead or alive. Chief Relyea indicated the command was extremely reluctant to convey the truth, that our son was deceased.
Someone from that command leaked the incident to the press before we were even notified. You can see from the very beginning, how the command was devising a cover-up strategy and trying to control the narrative that Brandon was a confused kid with mental issues who committed suicide.
Little did the Navy know, that we were very close with our son Brandon. We have texts, receipts, and hours of phone conversations with him to prove what really happened… that our son was driven to suicide and therefore it was murder.
Chief Relyea was on leave and Chief Nelson filled in his role as CACO officer. Nelson came out to our home to fill out additional paperwork. This paperwork consisted of if we wanted his body back with missing pieces or if we wanted Brandon to be held there until all pieces of him were collected. Chief Nelson said that they will never find all of the pieces from him due to the horrific way our son died as he hit the tail rotor blades.
If you are a parent, try to imagine how difficult it was for us to fill out such paperwork for our beloved 21-year-old Brandon. Nelson apologized for not having any of the fields pre-populated with our names and address and Brandon’s name and everything that is normally filled out. Usually the only thing the family does is sign the forms to minimize the painful impact of the content of those forms.
In our case, the Navy had us fill in each block of those God-awful forms. Chief Nelson said he contacted Mike who is at the Navy Bureau for CACO officers in Millington, Tennessee to ask for the pre-populated forms. Mike called Tokarski and Tokarski said he never received it but then he found it and stated it was in his spam folder.
The Navy had been sitting on this paperwork for over two weeks, when naval regulations state it has a 24-hour turn around. It took us three hours to completely fill these forms out, thanks to Tokarski and his pure stupidity. Mike said this guy (Tokarski) definitely is not very intelligent and should have never been made the Command Master Chief.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOUR SON DIES IN THE NAVY
We were told that Brandon’s body was going to be flown to Dover, Delaware so an autopsy could be done. We were told he would be flown out on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. We found out that he wasn’t flown out until June 28. We were still waiting to hear when he would be coming home because we needed to bury him. We had family and friends asking when the funeral was going to be.
We had to keep telling family and loved ones, that we don’t know when the funeral would happen, because we don’t know when the Navy will release our son’s body to us. We discovered that during the autopsy, the county medical examiner (ME) stepped in. We were never told why the ME became involved. Brandon didn’t come home until July 6, 2018, eleven days from when the horrible event occurred.
For some reason, people who have been killed overseas, come home faster than Brandon did. The delay leads us to believe that something was not right and we have no idea of what was really going on behind the scenes. We discovered, after reading the NCIS report, the FBI had become involved. Again, we have no idea why.
One could surmise the FBI wanted to find out if Brandon was some sort of terrorist attempting to become a martyr. While the FBI was there, they should have investigated the command and their attempt to cover-up the fact they committed murder by driving our son to suicide. The FBI did not investigate the command, but they sure as hell should have.
Someone from HSC-28 called Chief Relyea’s Commanding Officer in a feeble attempt to lay the blame on Chief Relyea for paperwork delays, delaying Brandon’s household goods, and sending documents which were undiscovered but later allegedly found is a spam folder. HSC-28 attempted to blame anyone and everyone for the failure to properly carry duties delineated in naval regulations. They were all trying to cover their asses.
We had been asking for Brandon’s personal effects since his death. We were told they would be released to us in ten days, but as with our son’s body, it kept getting delayed over and over again. We followed up with Chief Relyea, and his boss in San Diego (Mr. Settner).
The boxes containing our son’s personal effects were never secured at HSC-28. Anyone and everyone had access to them at any time. We feel very certain, that our son’s personal effects were sifted through several times to ensure there was nothing that could incriminate or embarrass anyone in the command.
Someone gave Patrick the number to the shipping company and they said everything was there waiting to be shipped and we were told it would be any day now. Our son’s personal effects never left that shipping company. Chief Relyea called the shipping company on our behalf. HSC-28 had inadvertently or intentionally given the command’s address as both the shipping and receiving address. We believe it was a mistake made by Navy Master Chief David “Stupid” Tokarski.
BRANDON’S PERSONAL EFFECTS ARRIVED ON HIS PARENTS DOORSTEP,
IN TERRIBLE CONDITION (IN NAVY LINGO: “ALL BEAT TO SHIT!”)
Brandon’s personal belongings were finally shipped to us on August 16, 2018, two months after Brandon’s death. Because different kinds of tape was used, it was plainly obvious the boxes had been opened and re-taped many times.
The Navy had been scouring his personal effects for anything incriminating or bring a harsh light upon the naval service. Chief Relyea was present when the boxes arrived. He was a witness to the pathetic condition of all the containers.
Many items were in his sea-bags, that were unlocked and unprotected. The careless way these boxes were packed and shipped resembled the shabby way Brandon, and us as his parents, were treated by the United States Navy.
The packing should have been done by the shipping company the way other service personnel receive with they transfer to new duty stations. The shipping inventory did not match what was in the boxes; not even close. HSC-28 sent someone from the command to pack up everything.
Chief Relyea and Chief Nelson agreed with our assessment, that the command knew they were in lots of trouble and were doing and saying just about anything to protect their own hides. Typically, the CACOs help people for only a couple of days. Chief Relyea and Chief Nelson, to their credit, were still helping us through October.
The Navy Inspector General allegedly called the CACO officers but nothing came of it. We do know for a fact that no one has every been even slightly held accountable. At a minimum, people should have either been busted or not promoted. But, it was back to business as usual. Nothing to see here, let’s move on.
The Command Line of Duty Investigation was a complete joke. It was filled with falsified statements to cover up what actually occurred. They Navy did everything possible to bury the harassment Brandon was being subjected to. We have demanded accountability.
The only thing we heard about was AE1 Brose was transferred two days after the incident because he made derogatory comments about Brandon and the incident. He was transferred to the Wing, working for one of the chaplains. Everyone else involved are untarnished by the gross misconduct and negligence.
Every person in Brandon’s chain of command up to the commodore have some degree of culpability in the death of our son. Once the commodore discovered what happened he should have taken decisive action to hold people accountable. His failure to do so, means that he also is part of the cover-up.
When Patrick spoke to Mike, he told Patrick that there was a suicide the day before Brandon’s in a sister squadron and there was another suicide three weeks prior in another sister squadron of HSC-28. All three suicides were under Commodore, Commander Worthy and his staff.
LIEUTENANT SKYE BABER, REPRESENTING THE NAVY & HSC-28
SNEAKS OUT OF TOWN, JUST BEFORE FUNERAL BEGAN
When Brandon made his final journey home, this time in a casket, he was escorted by a naval officer (Lt. Skye Baber) representing the HSC-28 command in Norfolk, Virginia. After Brandon’s body was placed in the hearse, the lieutenant approached my husband and I, to convey his condolences for the loss of our son.
Patrick (Brandon’s father), still angry about the harassment that drove Brandon to commit suicide, told the Lt. Baber that enough evidence existed to send AE1 Brose, NC1 Spence and CMC Tokarski to Captain’s Mast (Article 15 Hearing), possibly a court-martial.
Lt. Baber really didn’t want to get into a contentious conversation with grieving parents, abruptly said there was going to be a JAG investigation, and with that, turned his back to walk away. His rude and deeply objectionable behavior was witnessed by nearly fifty people who came to support us as parents of the deceased that included numerous family, friends, firefighters and police.
Lt. Baber had planned to escort our son’s body in the hearse, but became miffed when the funeral director said there was no room for him in the vehicle. It’ was clear, the lieutenant wasn’t too happy about that. One got the feeling the command representative from HSC-28 really didn’t want to be there at all, and felt it was a waste of his time. Lt. Baber ultimately arrived at the funeral home in a rented car.
Lt. Baber requested to inspect Brandon’s uniform. By the time Lt. Baber arrived, the funeral director told him that Brandon was no longer in his uniform, but he was welcomed to inspect it folded neatly on a chair. She informed the Lt. Baber that she had been instructed by the parents to put Brandon in his favorite suit.
Before he died, Brandon made it clear that he DID NOT WANT to be cremated in a Navy uniform. The funeral director conveyed to Lt. Baber that Brandon had requested in a letter before he died that he didn’t want a military funeral. Upon hearing this, Baber got visibly upset and abruptly departed.
On the day of the funeral, the captain of the color guard, asked Patrick where was the HSC-28 representative (Lt. Baber). The ceremony called for Lt. Skye Baber to be part of the color guard and bestow an American Flag to the father of the deceased (Patrick). No one knew what had happened to Lt. Baber, so the funeral director placed a phone call to Lt. Baber to inquire his whereabouts.
Lt. Baber, apparently said screw these people, and without telling anyone, boarded a plane back to Norfolk, Virginia. Fortunately, one of Brandon’s friends who was not attached to HSC-28, arrived in her full-dress Navy uniform.
The captain of the color guard asked her to fill in for the Lieutenant “cry-baby” Baber who had stealthy slipped out of town. She was honored to fill in for Lt. “Ingrate” Baber, and gracefully bestowed an American Flag to Brandon’s father during the funeral service.
Lt. Baber exhibited behavior that was pretty much exactly how the command felt about Brandon’s death. In that regard he was a true representative of the United States Navy. We found out the hard way, that HSC-28 really could give a damn about our loss, or our pain.
They sent an arrogant naval officer to represent the Navy, who came off as a pre-Madonna and had no intention of paying his respects to the dead. We discovered his condolence remark at the airport was completely insincere.
We were humiliated and embarrassed by Lt. Skye Baber. We were ashamed for those who did attend the funeral. They had to witness the mad scramble to obtain a stand-in for the disingenuous naval officer. Not one person from HSC-28 attended Brandon’s funeral.
Regardless of how or why Brandon died, the behavior by HSC-28’s designated representative (Lt. Skye Baber) was absolutely despicable and brought discredit upon the naval service.
Lt. Baber’s sneaky departure just prior to the funeral, was an example of total disrespect to our family and friends, that made the United States Navy look very petty indeed. Moreover, it was disrespectful to the deceased. Since Brandon committed suicide, the Navy apparently felt they didn’t have to give our son any respect at all.
Brandon ended up receiving a military funeral with honors. Our beloved son certainly deserved it after the hell he had been put through, both in Seal training and the pathetic leadership of HSC-28. As parents who loved him so, we honored his request that he NOT be buried in his uniform.
The despicable Lt. Skye Baber, at a minimum, discarded military protocol, and may have even violated Naval regulations by slithering out of town just before the funeral was to begin. His behavior is the definition of “conduct unbecoming a naval officer.”
He was the perfect officer to send as a command representative, because his devious departure revealed his honest feelings of how HSC-28 truly felt about Brandon’s death. No one really cared.
SUICIDES ARE JUST THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS
The cocktail party orthodoxy in the Pentagon believes that suicides by military personnel is just he cost of doing the business of protecting the nation.
It’s a sort of dinner party decadence that permeates down through the ranks. If a sailor commits suicide, let’s just clean up the mess and move on. No one asks the reason why, because no one wants to know the reason why.
There were three suicides in Norfolk, Virginia in one month (June, 2018) under the same commodore who is still in charge of thirteen squadrons. Where accountability is concerned, Commodore Alan M. Worthy was also given a pass by the senior leadership of the Navy with regards to our son’s death.
The commodore apparently has embraced the unwritten policy that suicides are just the cost of defending a nation. It’s no big deal. Nothing to see here folks, time to move on.
These sailors were not in a combat zone nor were they killed in action. Losing three lives, in one month is a graphic example of irresponsibility. Commodore Worthy should have ordered a proper investigation into all three suicides regardless of the circumstances associated with each suicide.
The Navy does not investigate, because they don’t what to “officially” know…. and they especially don’t want the senior brass in Washington to know about the circumstances that resulted in our son taking his own life.
Having the commands conduct their own investigations, is the fox guarding the hen house. Investigations should be done by an someone OUTSIDE of the commands. The proof is in the Command Line of Duty investigation in Brandon’s case because it is filled with lies and deceptions. They didn’t even bother to get the dates correct. The investigation was a sham designed to effect a cover-up and make the issue go away.
After the other two suicides, HSC-28 did NOT hold suicide counseling or training on how to recognize the symptoms of someone about to commit suicide. If they would have, maybe Brandon would be alive today. Not holding rudimentary training after ANY suicide is totally unacceptable.
Sometimes military officers push their people to the breaking point so they can add to their own resume when promotions are handed out. At Brandon’s squadron, the sailors routinely were not allowed time to eat lunch, take any breaks, and work extraordinarily long hours.
We realize of course, the military is a different sort of vocation that can be very demanding. This is why military personnel can retire at age 38, when the majority of civilian jobs go to 65 for retirement.
The command had Brandon was working 13-hour days, then had to work on his PC qualification after that for 2 hours. He was so exhausted when he got back to his barracks room, he would frequently fall asleep in his clothes.
In war time, military leaders many times have to ask for a “maximum effort” that places even more demand on people to produce. We get that. But, add to that stress relentless harassment and haranguing by a supervisor and it becomes too much to bear.
Make no mistake, HSC-28 murdered our son Brandon. Senior officials of HSC-28 bear the ultimate responsibility for their failures such as the decision to keep AE1 Brose in charge. They all turned a bind eye to Brose’s bullying and hatred toward Brandon and others.
The senior commanders and their staff were well aware of the chronic misconduct of AE1 Brose, but did nothing to stop it. When our son took his own life, these same people helped to cover-up what really occurred with bogus investigations.
HSC-28 did what it could to downplay, ignore, destroy evidence and do whatever it took to conceal their malfeasance. Brandon was driven to suicide by men in his command. The failure to act properly and judiciously makes this command an accessory to murder at the very least.
HSC-28 concealed material facts related to Brandon’s death. They could not care less about the well-being and welfare of their sailors and airmen. More than one person in his chain of command gave Brandon nothing but indifference.
So many people ignored the situation and should have taken overt steps to intervene in what was obviously divisive leadership. They protected the perpetrators so they could continue an unrelenting campaign of despicable bullying and mistreatment that pushed Brandon take his own life.
Unfortunately, we are now members of the Navy Gold Star Program. Other families who died on active duty were flown in for their son or daughter’s memorial. They received per diem and they were allowed to speak with anyone in the command about their son or daughter.
Our case was quite different. We were not even notified of the memorial service and were barred from entering the base in case we did find out and decide to attend. Oh yes, the United States Navy went into damage control mode the instant Brandon walked into the spinning tail rotor blades.
The command did not want parents asking questions. The truth might leak out about even more things that we are not aware of. The Navy knew that it was virtually impossible to publish lies in official so-called investigations with out the truth coming back to haunt them. Getting a whole squadron of people to get their stories straight is impossible.
Believe it or not, the Navy was successful in keeping their stories straight by sending us typed letters that were all strangely consistent. One parroted the other. Not one letter providing anything more than “condolences.”
This was the respect they gave Brandon’s father who gave 22 years of his life to the Navy, and is a 100% disabled combat veteran. They disrespected Brandon and his entire family, and all those who have suffered in a similar fashion.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR DRIVING SOMEONE TO SUICIDE,
THEN ORCHESTRATING A COVER-UP – NOT IN THE NAVY
While we are not JAG officers, we think that one or more people should have been charged with one or more of the below punitive articles from the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)…
Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman
Dereliction of Duty
Failure to Obey Order or Regulation
Cruelty and Maltreatment
Non Compliance with Procedural Rules
False Official Statements
Property other than military property – waste, spoilage, or destruction
Provoking Speeches or Gestures
Accessory before the fact
Mails: taking, opening, secreting, destroying, or stealing
Public record: altering, concealing, removing, mutilating, obliterating or destroying
Seizure: destruction, removal, or disposal of property to prevent
Stolen Property: knowingly receiving, buying, concealing
Threat, communication there of
One or all of the following people should have been held accountable, but were not. These people are an embarrassment and a disgrace to the Navy, our great country and to society as a whole. We demand those responsible be held accountable for Brandon’s death. Since there is not a statute of limitations on murder, it’s not too late to file charges.
Commodore, Alan M. Worthy – Commander Atlantic Helicopter Combat Wing
Commander, Duane Whitmer – Commanding Officer (HSC-28)
Commander, Trevor Prouty – Executive Officer (HSC-28)
Command Master Chief, David Tokarski
Master Chief Pete Lerette
Chief Doug Delasanro
Chief Shelah Hennard
NC1 Remmy Spence
AE1 Jared Brose
We entrusted them with Brandon’s life. They murdered him and have covered it up. Even if none face justice, every damn one of them needs to be relieved of duty immediately. This political correctness is gone off the rails.
A Command Master Chief was allegedly relieved for being degrading to women for saying “Let’s clap like we were in a strip club.” People are relieved for an insensitive remark, but if they allow someone to be driven to suicide, that’s OK.
INSULT TO INJURY
Ironically, Chief Doug Dalessandro was recently commissioned as a naval officer, instead of being arrested. Chief Dalassandro stole Brandon’s debit card, which clearly violated his rights. Technically, Chief Dalassandro, acting under the color of law, ordered Brandon to surrender his debit card to him. Dalassandro, then illegally changed Brandon’s address in the Arizona DMV database.
Furthermore, Chief Dalassandro violated HIPPA laws. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is the law that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. Laws and ethical norms are violated left and right, but the United States Navy has no problem with it.
The icing on the cake was that after Brandon’s driver’s license arrived at the squadron after his death, it was also stolen and has been presumably destroyed. Help to drive someone to commit suicide and get rewarded with a commission as a naval officer.
The squadron commanding officer, CDR Duane Whitmer has apparently transferred out of HSC-28. We are betting the Navy probably promoted him as well. Following the Navy playbook of rewarding the perpetrators, and ignoring the pain of the victims, Whitmer is credited for effective damage-control measures.
Whitmer successfully kept what really happened to Brandon off the radar. Make no mistake, the leadership of CDR Whitmer’s squadron drove Brandon Patrick Caserta to self-destruction. Whitmer should have been held accountable, but instead, the Navy felt it appropriate to probably promote him the the rank of captain.
Commander Trevor Prouty who was the Executive Officer is now the Commanding Officer of HSC-28. Prouty and Whitmer have apparently been spreading the rumor we paid people for information. The very idea is absurd and is yet just another outrageous lie.
CDR Prouty claims the command didn’t know AE1 Brose was so abusive towards the sailors in his charge until Brandon died. The command certainly did know. Brandon’s father Patrick personally told Master Chief Lerette on June 18th. Lerette then told CMC Tokarski.
Patrick also told CMC Tokarski on June 25th, and categorically went down the list of the abuses being committed by AE1 Brose. If officers were truly kept in the dark about the unrelenting harassment, then the commanding officer should have immediately relieved all those involved.
Then the CO should have contacted the admiral requesting a general court against all those who perpetrated crimes and those who concealed the crimes. CDR Duane Whitmer’s failure to do so makes him complicit. Suicide is just the cost of doing business.
How could they not know about the on-going harassment? Everyone Brandon worked with were witnesses to the chronic and sadistic abuse levied on Brandon and others. NC1 Spence bragged to Brandon’s father on the phone that he was protecting Brandon. That was obviously a lie.
People claim they did not falsify any statements on the Command Line of Duty Investigation nor to Naval Crime Investigative Service (NCIS). But, Brandon’s June 22nd pre-printed counseling paperwork (chit) tells a different story.
The chit stated that Brandon was claustrophobic (which someone lined out), and it mentioned the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) in spite of the fact that Brandon was never given the opportunity to provide his side of the story.
Brandon’s fate was predetermined which makes the whole evolution a fraud. Obviously, the senior leadership of HSC-28 left management of the squadron to subordinates. They were too busy to worry about such trivial matters. It was trivial until our son could take no more of the torment and ended his life.
We suspect that everyone knew Brandon had become the command’s whipping boy. They were just fine with it until the scope of what they were doing was exposed. The Navy has a unwritten policy of avoiding accountability. That’s why the commanding officer is never on the bridge when tugboats are bringing his ship into harbor.
If the ship runs aground, then he/she can say they were not on the bridge at the time and was therefore not “responsible.” The officers of HSC-28 knew, or should have known, what their subordinates were doing in their name. It’s their responsibility to know. They were derelict in their duties, and therefore some or all are guilty of wanton and gross negligence that resulted in the death of our son.
Patrick and Teri Caserta
(Brandon’s father and mother)