A Navy veteran who appeared on Fox News this month to boast about his Vietnam War record as a Navy SEAL while praising Donald Trump was never in Vietnam and was never a SEAL, The Military Times reports.
The Fox segment, which has over 1.5 million Facebook views, showed Navy vet John Garofalo showing off a huge presidential seal he had carved for Trump.
“The Vietnam War veteran served seven years as a member of the nation’s first Navy SEAL team,” Fox News reporter Bryan Llenas said. “He was awarded 22 commendations, including two Purple Hearts.”
Llenas later added that the 72-year-old “was listed twice during his service in Vietnam as missing in action.”
“You are a hero,” Llenas told him in the segment. “But like most heroes—”
“I don’t like to hear that,” Garofalo interjected.
“Why don’t you like to hear it?” Llenas asked.
“Heroes are the ones that didn’t come home,” he replied.
“God bless John Garofalo,” an anchor said after the segment. “We certainly hope maybe the president is listening.”
When the Navy Times contact Garofalo Thursday, the vet admitted he lied.
He had never served in Vietnam, he had never been a SEAL, and he certainly didn’t receive any Purple Heart medals.
He admitted to falsely claiming to be a war hero for years.
“It got bigger and bigger,” Garofalo told the Navy Times. “What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs.”
Records show that he did serve in the Navy for four years in the 1960’s. He worked as an aviation boatswain’s mate, which involves “overseeing various ground-based functions involving aircraft.”
“The closest he ever got to Vietnam was a tour in Rota, Spain,” the Military Times reported.
Don Shipley, a retired SEAL, was the first to obtain records disputing Garofalo’s story and took it to Fox News, which continued to keep the story up until Thursday.
“Fox News not withdrawing that story has drove me nutty,” Shipley told the Navy Times. “I don’t know who has the balls in this day and age to do something like that.”
Shipley sent the records to Fox a who failed to retract the piece a day after it aired.
“You can turn this story around,” Shipley wrote to Llenas on Facebook. “I‘ll help you but avoiding it won’t help.”
Fox News finally issued a correction Thursday, apologizing to their viewers and to veterans.
“Unfortunately, all of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue,” Fox said in a statement. “The fact is that he did not serve in Vietnam. He was never a U.S. Navy SEAL. Even though he showed us medals, Garofalo was not awarded two Purple Hearts or any of the other nearly two dozen commendations he claimed to have received, except for the National Defense Service Medal.”
“It is true that Garafalo is a glass artist and a veteran. He served in Spain and he gifted two presidential seals to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush,” the network said. “Over the last two weeks, we’ve worked with Garofalo’s family and the National Personnel Records Center to get to the bottom of a military past that Garofalo had claimed to be covert.”