Alleged Navy SEAL and glass worker John Garafalo was featured in a Fox News segment after he created a massive glass seal for the president, but there was one major problem: Garafalo never served with the elite special operations unit.
The story appeared believable. The 72-year-old laid out his medals for the camera, and can be seen tearing up, noting he doesn't like being called a hero because "heroes are the ones that didn't come home." At the center of the story was the massive 4-foot presidential seal Garafolo had carved from glass and bronze to give as a gift to Trump.
"The man, he woke something up in me, he's for the people," Garafolo told Fox News. "I have hope for him and I have hope for the country."
The segment claimed Garafolo had received 22 commendations during his time with the SEALs, including two Purple Hearts. While he had spent four years in the Navy from 1963 to 1967, Garafolo wasn't a SEAL and did not serve in Vietnam, according to records obtained by the Navy Times. He served as an aviation boatswain's mate, which involved overseeing aircraft functions from the ground.
Garafolo's deception was discovered by two retired Navy SEALs who provided Garafolo's actual record. They both contacted Fox about the lie a day after it was published, but was still on the publication's Facebook page until Oct. 19. It went viral during that time, receiving 1.5 million views. Fox published a correction on Thursday, noting the claims turned out to be untrue after spending two weeks working with Garafolo's family and the National Personnel Records Center in order to determine the truth.
"Fox News not withdrawing that story has drove me nutty," Don Shipley, a retired SEAL who unmasks fake military service claims. "I don't know who has the balls in this day and age to do something like that."
Garafolo told the Navy Times that he had been living the lie for years.
"It got bigger and bigger," Garafolo told the Navy Times. "What I did I'm ashamed of, and I didn't mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs."