Fox News reporter Bryan Llenas praised John Garofalo on Oct. 8 when Garofalo showed off a giant presidential seal that he had carved for President Donald Trump.
Llenas said of the 72-year-old New York State resident:
The Vietnam War veteran served seven years as a member of the nation’s first Navy SEAL team. He was awarded 22 commendations, including two Purple Hearts… He was listed twice during his service in Vietnam as missing in action… God bless John Garofalo. We certainly hope maybe the president is listening.
The Navy Times was listening, and contacted Garofalo who admitted that he had lied.
Garofalo confessed that he was never a SEAL, was not in Vietnam, and was never awarded a Purple Heart.
Garofalo said he had told the lie for years: “It got bigger and bigger. What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs.”
The Navy Times notes that official records say that Garofalo did serve as an aviation boatswain’s mate in the Navy from Sept. 6, 1963, to Sept. 6, 1967.
Former SEALs and Garofalo’s family members said they contacted Fox News about retracting the segment, which it did not for days.
Don Shipley, a retired SEAL who outs fake military service claims, got copies of Garofalo’s official military records, and approached Fox News on Oct. 9 about the fakery.
Shipley offered the proof to Llenas: “You can turn this story around. I‘ll help you but avoiding it won’t help.”
However, Fox News kept going with the viral story until Oct. 19, notes the Navy Times, when it finally issued a retraction:
Unfortunately, all of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue. 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.
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.
We apologize to our viewers, especially veterans and servicemen and women.