After going through Aviation Electrician school in Pensacola, Florida, Brandon received orders to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 (HSC-28) which is on the Naval Station Norfolk Base in Virginia. His squadron was NOT on a ship although it counted as sea duty as it is an expeditionary unit. He checked in on October 19, 2016. Brandon was at HSC-28 on Temporary Assignment Detail (TAD) orders until his C School started. C School is a specialty school he was assigned to learn about the mechanics of a Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk helicopter. These are the aircraft he would be working on while stationed at HSC-28. He started C School on November 28, 2016 and graduated on January 31, 2017.
Christmas 2016, Brandon was not able to come home on leave due to him taking leave after he was dropped from the SEAL program. We sent him a package with his Christmas gifts in it. When it finally arrived, Brose was the one handing mail out to everyone and from what we were told by Brandon, Leading Petty Office AE1 (Aviation Electrician First Class) Brose was handing everyone their packages and letters. While everyone was standing at Muster which is formation or roll call, Brose saw the package for Brandon, he dropped it in the center of the room and said, “Caserta, this one is for you. Come get it.” Brandon had to walk up in front of everyone to get his package. He is so lucky he didn’t break anything. He did ANYTHING he could to make Brandon feel worthless and degraded. Brose kept changing his work hours from day to night and back to day with no sleep at all in between. There were many times Brandon did not sleep for three or four days. It was horrible, but Brandon did what he was told.
On February 1, 2017, Brandon officially started his tour with HSC-28. He was assigned to work in the Geedunk which is their “Candy Store”. Brandon told us the reason HSC-28 has a Geedunk is that the sailors were not allowed to go to lunch at the Mess Hall or cafeteria. Brandon was told they didn’t have time and were given no more than 15 minutes to eat lunch or any meal. They could not leave the command for any reason. Brandon worked very hard and asked everyone who went there what they would like to have in the store; mostly because Brandon didn’t like what was offered. Every time Brandon was taken to Costco, he would make sure to get the items that other sailors requested. That was what Brandon did. He cared about what others wanted and wanted them to be happy since they couldn’t leave the command to get food. He ended up making the command the most money they have ever earned through the Geedunk.
About a month into being at HSC-28, Brandon was telling us how horrible it was, mostly his LPO, AE1 Jared Brose. He was extremely nasty to Brandon, and he was not the only one, but we were told after Brandon’s death that Brose put a target on Brandon’s back. Brose put all of his attention on Brandon which took it off of others. We’ve had sailors tell us that they were glad it was Brandon and not them anymore. Brose, from day one, called Brandon a BUDs Dud; meaning Brandon was dropped from the SEAL program. Brandon had heartburn over this because he did not volunteer to quit the program. Brose did not understand that or he just didn’t care. Brandon told us he could handle his comments. At the time we don’t believe Brandon worked under him. His chain of command changed constantly so we truly do not know who was in charge of Brandon the whole time he was there. I don’t think Brandon knew half the time either.
Brandon worked in the Geedunk until June 30, 2017, where he was then sent to the Line Shack. The Line Shack is the flight line crew or to civilians, the tarmac. They are the ones who walk the flight line and pick up any objects they see including pebbles before a helicopter takes off or lands. They stand there when a helicopter launches and lands. He started to get “Plane Captain” qualified which supposedly is needed to be on the flight line. What you HAVE to remember is, that Brandon went to two different schools to learn aviation electronics and a specialty school for the exact aircraft he would be working on or repairing. We, the taxpayers, paid for Brandon’s military schooling. That would be in the $100,000 range. Another thing that we learned after Brandon’s death is that another sailor who was in boot camp or basic training with Brandon also went into the SEAL program. He was in the same class as Brandon in SEAL training. He dropped out a week or two earlier than Brandon was dropped by the SEAL instructor. Brandon lasted longer than this other sailor. What is even more ironic is this same sailor went to Pensacola for AE school and was in Brandon’s class. This sailor happened to get to HSC-28 one day before Brandon and was immediately put into the shop and started working in his AE rating where Brandon went to the Geedunk. Brandon NEVER worked a day in his AE rating. That is waste, fraud, and abuse. Our taxpayer money was wasted.
Brandon never complained that he was assigned to the Geedunk or the flight line crew. He did what he was told. When Brandon went to the flight line, AE1 Jared Brose was Brandon’s Leading Petty Officer (LPO). He tormented Brandon even worse. Brose got everyone else to join in on the “fun” of bullying and hazing Brandon. He would give Brandon several tasks and when Brandon got them done, he would approach Brose and ask him what else needed to be done. Brose’s reply was, “Why don’t you go make yourself useful somewhere else” and/or “We don’t need you here.” He would single Brandon out and make him the butt of his jokes every day and somehow he got others to do it too. All Brandon wanted to do was his work without all the bullying and hazing that was being done to him. He wanted to work hard and make rank.
When Brose was sent to the ship to deploy to Italy sometime in the middle of 2017, Brandon master-minded re-rating to just get out of the command. He decided to go AWO which is an Aircrewman rating and part of the Special Warfare program. He had to take a 2nd Class Swim qualification as one of many of the qualifications needed to enter this rate. Brandon took this qualification and passed on August 18, 2017. Brandon told us there were 15 swimmers and there were only two people who passed and one was Brandon. He said it was easy but he comes from a swimming background which helped him get his SEAL contract. He completed and submitted his Aircrewman package and it was approved all before Brose was kicked off of that deployment.
When he was on the flight line, Brandon was working hard to get Plane Captain Qualified. A plane captain is a person who is in charge of the flight line crew and guides the helicopter to take off and land. We were told by several people that Brandon was signing off on the qualifications of others trying to get this same qualification. Brandon was 72% complete on getting this qualification when, on November 9th, he fell off of his bicycle in front of the command and broke his collar bone. Brandon was taken by ambulance to the Naval hospital and was put on light-limited duty or LIMDU until he was fit for full duty. He was off until that next Monday. On November 13th, Brandon was back in the Geedunk where he stayed until he was fit for full duty.
During Brandon’s time on LIMDU status, his Navy Counselor, Remy Spence, canceled Brandon’s order to go Aircrewman. Keep in mind, that Brandon transferred to Pensacola, FL with a broken leg. Spence canceled the orders and told Brandon that as soon as he is fit for full duty he would expedite the orders and he would leave within two weeks. Brandon was fit for full duty on March 28, 2018, and Spence told him he needed to redo the entire package. We found out after his death that his package is good for a year and Spence lied to him. Brandon would be alive today if Spence NEVER canceled his orders or told the Detailer Brandon was fit for duty and ready to move on. Spence is one of the many people in HSC-28 who have blood on his hands.
While he was on LIMDU status, the AMS system (this is the system that keeps track of qualifications) reset and when that happened, his 72% completion rate on his Plane Captain Qualification went to zero. This is where EVERYTHING went downhill for Brandon. On March 28th, Brandon went back to the line shack and was told he had six months to complete his Plain Capt. Qualification. Brandon had to redo the entire qualification over again. Brose refused to bring it up to date. On May 17, Brandon received a Counseling Chit for not having this qualification done. He was told he had until June 15th to be 100% board ready. In order for him to get this qualification, he had to go to a board and answer questions about the qualification. Let me tell you, this qualification is completely voluntary. Brandon did NOT have to get this if he didn’t want to. The very first question the board asks is if they are there voluntarily. If they aren’t, then they are dismissed with no questions asked. Brandon was being forced to do this qualification but he was still doing it.
Keep in mind too that Brandon was going Aircrewman. He did NOT need this qualification because he would be in helicopters not launching them. Why they made him go through this training is something we didn’t figure out before his death. After his death, we could see why: they were NEVER going to let Brandon go aircrewman.
They were only giving Brandon less than 30 days to get board ready for a qualification that takes six months to get. Maybe that’s why the crew on the flight line allowed Brandon to run on the flight line to die. They were not properly qualified. We are pretty sure Commander Whitmer rushed people through this qualification. We do not know what needs to be done before a task is signed off on but we do know that Brose was the one he had to go to. Needless to say, Brandon was not Board ready on June 15th. On June 18th Brandon was put on Extra Military Instruction (EMI) for his punishment. Brandon had to stay 2 hours after his full day of work to work on his qualification. We know that Brandon worked from 7 am to 7 pm BEFORE his EMI punishment. Now he was staying until 9 pm every night and getting back to his barracks room after 9:30 pm. By this time, he wasn’t able to eat dinner so I hope he was eating what was in the Geedunk. Brandon, needless to say, was exhausted.
On June 18th, one week before Brandon died, Brandon asked Brose if he could go to medical to get his labs done for his Aircrewman package (remember, he did not need to do this, Spence was making him redo his entire package). Brose told him “no, call and reschedule. I’m not going to let you complete your f*cking cross-rate when you haven’t done sh*t for me and never got your PC!”. Brandon went to go talk to his NC1 Remmy Spence and when he opened his door, Spence said, “get me your LPO”. Brandon went back down and told Brose that Spence wanted to see him, but Brose never went. Later that day, both Spence and Brose clear out of the shop and it’s only Brandon, Spence, and Brose and they both tell Brandon he can't go to medical to complete his physical. This is when Spence, Brandon’s self-proclaimed mentor, turned his back on Brandon and supported Brose. This was the final blow to Brandon. Spence has blood on his hands. We believe this event sparked the letter that Brandon put in the Anonymouse Box and slipped a copy under Commanding Officer Duane Whitmer’s office door. You can find this letter on this website.
One week before Brandon died he typed up this letter as a warning to Whitmer that he was going to do something drastic. Whitmer ignored this letter. The reason Brandon sipped it under his door was because it was known that the Command Master Chief (CMC) David Tokarski NEVER gave letters of concern to Whitmer. He would go through them and toss the ones that needed attention. Tokarski, if you look at his picture he looks like a scared little mouse. After Brandon’s death, he was going around telling everyone they were all going to get fired…that did not happen.
Stay tuned for the rest of Brandon’s last week alive at HSC-28. After his death, the command turns on us with despicable injustices.
Thank you for reading.