On October 8, Fox News aired a news story about John Garofalo – a glass artist and Navy SEAL who claimed he served in the Vietnam War and received several military medals including two Purple Hearts. He created a 4-foot, 150-pound hand-carved glass and bronze presidential seal that he had hoped to give to President Trump as a gift. Almost two weeks after the story aired, it was discovered that Garofalo never served in the Navy SEALs, nor did he earn any Purple Hearts.
In the two-minute video segment, Fox News reported Garofalo was awarded several medals for his military service. In the video clip, Reporter Bryan Llenas praised Garofalo for his service.
“Garofalo is used to working under pressure,” Llenas said in the segment. “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.”
The Fox News reporter called Garofalo a “tough, tough man.”
The segment was posted to the Fox New Facebook page and received 1.5 million views.
Real members of the Navy SEALs along with members of Garofalo’s family contacted Fox News to let them know about the story, according to the Navy Times.
Retired Navy SEAL Don Shipley contacted Fox News a day after they aired the segment asking them to retract the phony story. He later contacted the Navy Times and provided official documents showing Garofalo’s military background. He posted a video to Extreme Seal Experience to Garofalo for lying about his military experience.
The Navy Times said they reached out to Garofalo and he admitted that he lied about serving in Vietnam, never received a Purple Heart and was never a member of the elite military unit. Garofalo didn’t think his story would go viral and he would get called out for fabricating his story.
“It got bigger and bigger,” Garofalo told Navy Times in a phone interview. “What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs,” he added.
The Navy Times reports that Garofalo did serve in the Navy from September 6, 1963 to September 6, 1967 as an aviation boatswain’s mate – a person in charge of a ship’s deck personnel.
The video was removed from the Fox News Facebook page and they later issued a statement.
“All of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue,” according to a statement issued by Fox News on Thursday. “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.” Fox News went on to apologize to their viewers, veterans and servicemen and women.