Fox News Channel has issued a correction in response to a man claiming he was a decorated veteran who served as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam.
A story initially ran October 8 on Fox News featuring John Garofalo, a man who created a presidential glass seal with the hope of presenting it to President Donald Trump. Garofalo claimed to be a Vietnam veteran and said he was a member of the first U.S. Navy SEAL team, adding that he had multiple military decorations including two Purple Hearts.
“Unfortunately, all of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue,” the cable news outlet wrote in its correction. “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.”
Here’s what you need to know about Garofalo and the incident:
1. Garofalo Was Outed by a Veteran Who Exposes Military Fraud
Garofalo was featured on Fox News on October 8 in a Bryan Llenas report and was referred to as a “war hero.” He told Llenas that he received 22 commendations over his military career, including two Purple Hearts and was listed twice as missing in action during his “service” in Vietnam. The piece went viral on social media and had nearly 2 million Facebook views on Fox News’ Facebook page.
“God bless John Garofalo,” an anchor said after the segment aired. “We certainly hope maybe the president is listening.”
At one point during the segment after he was called a hero, Garofalo appeared to get choked up and said: “Heroes are the ones that didn’t come home.”
According to a report by the Navy Times, Garofalo admitted to lying about serving in Vietnam, receiving the Purple Hearts and being a Navy SEAL.
“It got bigger and bigger,” Garofalo told the publication during a phone interview. “What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs.”
The fabrication was brought to the attention of the Navy Times by former Navy SEALs and family members.
Retired SEAL Don Shipley, who spends time outing made up military service claims, investigated Garofalo after the segment aired on Fox News. He researched his military records and informed the cable news network that their guest was a fraud.
“Fox News not withdrawing that story has drove me nutty,” he said after contacting them and seeing them fail to take the story down one day after it ran.
Watch a video of Shipley calling out Garafalo by clicking here.
2. Fox News Issued an On-Air Retraction on October 20, Over 1 Week After Shipley Brought It to Their Attention
While it posted the correction on its website, Fox News also addressed the correction on air on October 20. The correction happened during the end of a show and included Llenas saying Garofalo was indeed a fraud.
“Unfortunately, all of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue,” he said. “The fact is, that he did not serve in Vietnam. He was never a U.S. Navy SEAL, even though he showed us medals, which turned out to be fake. Garofalo was not awarded two Purple Hearts or any of the other nearly two dozen condemnations he claimed to have received except for the National Defense Service Medal.
Shipley told the Navy Times that he messaged Llenas on Facebook about the incident and asked for a retraction. The Fox News reporter told Shipley that he had a current request out for his record and wouldn’t comment on it until he received them.
“You can turn this around,” Shipley wrote to Llenas on Facebook, according to the Navy Times. “I’ll help you but avoiding it won’t help.”
3. Garofalo Didn’t Serve in Vietnam, but is a Military Veteran
While his claims he was awarded numerous honors for his time serving in Vietnam, it is true that he is a military veteran.
Documents obtained by the Navy Times show that Garofalo enlisted at a U.S. Navy Recruiting Station in New York and went to basic training at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. After completing training, he went to Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia in December 1963, the records showed.
According to the Navy Times, the closest he ever got to Vietnam was when he served a tour of duty in Rota, Spain. Military records indicate that he served in the Navy from September 6, 1963 until September 6, 1967 as an aviation boatswain’s mate — aircraft handling. His job involved overseeing functions on the ground involving aircraft, the records said.
4. Garofalo Really Owns his Own Glass Art Business
According to his Facebook page, Garofalo owns and runs Glass Artistry by Garofalo. Its “About Me” page says the company was founded in 1975 with a mission to “first educate each and every customer with what to look for in glass artistry then amaze them with the final carved glass piece.”
Garofalo says he has over 35 years “illuminating and enlightening clients with my attention to detail within one of a kind glass creations.” He custom designs each piece of sandblasted glass by deep carving it. The glass art has “endless applications” in homes as a simple sculpture, a privacy screen or more, its Facebook page says.
Garaflo had previously gifted seals similar to the one he made in honor of Trump to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
After his profile ran on Fox News, hundreds of people went to his Facebook page thanking him for his artwork and military service.
“I saw your story on Fox, as an artist whose business was wiped out by the recession I want to thank you for your voice, your art and your service,” Facebook user Kim Brusse wrote.
Another person who saw Garafalo on Fox News claimed to be a glass artist herself and was looking to see his art in person.
“Just saw you on Fox,” Facebook user Lisa Stansbury wrote in a comment. “Your work is amazing. I’m also a glass artist and would love to get a gig like that. I do leaded stain, fused, and mosaic. Would love to see your stuff in person. Where are you located?”
5. Garofalo is a Republican & Donald Trump Supporter
One of the reasons Garofalo wanted to present Trump with the piece of glass art is because he’s been a fan of his for some time. His Facebook page includes “likes” for the Donald Trump for President page, Melania Trump, Sarah Palin, Dr. Ben & Candy Carson and Conservative News Today. He also liked Breitbart on Facebook in addition to numerous military pages.
Many of his posts to Facebook involve military and soldiers who died in action. His Facebook profile says he graduated from Levittown Memorial High School in New York.