On Monday, June 23, 2014, U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Special Warfare Operator Bradley S. Cavner suffered fatal injuries in a training jump near the desert town of El Centro, California (CA). It was just weeks after he returned from the battlefield of Afghanistan. “The training SEALs’ go through is inherently high-risk,” said Commander Christian Dunbar, in Coronado for Naval Special Warfare Group 1, and “Bradley was a warrior who selflessly answered his nation’s call to defend freedom and protect us.”
Brad, a native son of Coronado, CA, was born November 23, 1983, and dreamed of being a Navy SEAL since childhood. His father – retired Coronado Police Sergeant, Steve Cavner recalled that as a boy Brad watched the film “Top Gun” many times a week, and told his kindergarten teacher that his favorite color was “camouflage.” He excelled at football, first playing Pop Warner, and then for Coronado High School. He was known as the hardest hitter on the team. “Aggressive almost to a fault,” according to his dad, “He nailed people…. knocked them down and out.”
After graduating from Coronado High School in 2002, he enlisted in the Navy. True to beach town culture, Brad left Coronado on February 3, 2003, in “shorts and flip-flops to attend basic training in icy-cold Chicago.” After basic, Brad returned home to Coronado to attend Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL and SEAL Qualification Training. He graduated in class 247 in July 2004.
By August that same year, Brad was assigned to a West Coast-based SEAL Team. He deployed four times between 2005 and 2010. Once to the Pacific theater of operations, once in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He served as a member of the west coast-based training detachment from May 2010 to December 2012, and then returned to a West Coast-based SEAL team. Brad’s most recent deployment was to Afghanistan, from November 2013 to May 2014, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Brad’s own words crystallized his philosophy as a SEAL when he wrote, “In jobs like ours, it’s not about the title – not about bragging about what you do…It’s about the guy next to you. It’s about the Brotherhood. One guy can’t do everything. But together, we can crush anything. The guy next to you should always be more important than yourself.”
His fellow SEALs, who remain nameless for selflessness, and security reasons, describe Brad as an “intense” man. He “demanded the best out of those around him.” His aspirations were not celebrity. Rather, he was a true soldier, “always upgrading his knowledge to be more lethal on the battlefield, to defeat the enemy.” He lived his life to be an example to others, “not for him, but for love for his friends, family, and teammates.” This is what formed his actions. He kept his word, and he was a man of integrity. Brad had a positive influence on all the West Coast SEAL Teams, “Plain and simple, Brad made you want to be better at your job.” If there was an easy way out, he didn’t take it.
He personified the word patriot, by never going into battle without his American flag carefully folded and slipped under his breastplate.
Brad was also a true friend; a man with a devilish sense of humor who enjoyed playing pranks on his teammates. Because he worked and lived in the same town he was born and raised in, his SEAL teammates nicknamed him, “The Coronado Cowboy.”
His values of loyalty to brotherhood and service can be seen in Brad’s own writing:
To those before us…
To those amongst us…
To those we will see on the other side.
“Lord let me not prove unworthy of my Brothers.”
~Bradley “Cav” Cavner
Chief Petty Officer Bradley S. Cavner is a decorated hero. He was awarded the Bronze Star medal with “V” for valor on the battlefield, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor, Joint Service Achievement Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Combat Action Ribbons, Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, three Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, Overseas Deployment Ribbon, NATO Service Medal, and Expert Rifle and Pistol Marksmanship Medals. Brad was posthumously awarded a second Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal at his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
While he was a soldier through and through, Brad had a deep love for, and bond with his family. At home he was a “colorful character who liked to wear his hair shaggy, drink beer and come up with creative nicknames for friends and his favorite possessions,” like his Jeep, “The Dominator.” He loved life and lived a “full throttle” lifestyle, enjoying ocean sports, snowboarding, and travel. Brad is survived by his father Steve, mother Beth, sister Andrea, and brothers, Colton, and Carson.
Email correspondence with Andrea Cavner, sister
Other online sources
Coronado Eagle Journal
*Note, Cavner’s Avenue of Heroes Banner was displayed on Third Street and Palm, at the corner of the newly designated, Glenn Curtiss Park, in Coronado, California, May 18, 2015. It is synchronistic that his biography publication coincides with the anniversary of a community loss of this great American. This author had no idea the order the City of Coronado would mount the banners, which determined release.
Biography by Coronado Scribe, Toni McGowan,
with contributions and direction from Andrea Cavner Anderson, May 2015
Next week’s Avenue of Heroes biography will be Colonel Richard Kenney,
by Joseph Ditler, with contributions from Dot Harms, and C.L. Sherman, May 11, 2015
(Banner at Third and I)