Don Shipley on the latest phony SEAL debacle

Eye on Veterans
July 19, 2019 - 1:28 pm
Retired Navy SEAL Don Shipley

Photo courtesy Don Shipley

If someone tells you they were a Navy SEAL, and you have any doubt about their claim, Don Shipley is the man you go to. That's exactly what happened when Maryland's Capital Gazette printed an interview with Crofton, MD resident Bob Pollock.

Pollock was interviewed in connection with a story on a new monument to veterans and first responders in Crofton. During the interview, conducted by reporter and Army vet Melissa Krol, Pollock claimed to have been a SEAL in Vietnam.

While Pollock was in the Navy and did serve off the coast of Vietnam, according to Shipley he was never a SEAL. Shipley says he was an Aerographer's Mate, the Navy's meteorological experts, onboard the USS Constellation.

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To Shipley, it's not a surprise when people claim to be SEALs, the part that shocks the Sr. Chief is when they start talking to reporters.

"Y'know it surprises me when they do it in the media in this day and age," Shipley told ConnectingVets.com. "...Pollock's problem was he thought that SEAL and POW claim was gonna stay in that local Capital Gazette paper."

In addition to his SEAL claim, Pollock claimed to have been held as a prisoner of war (POW) in Vietnam. 

"No SEAL has ever been taken POW," Shipley said. "None! Never! That's always a really big claim with a lot of these phonies. 'Oh yeah, I was a prisoner of war.' It just conjures up images of Rambo in that dung pit looking up at his captors y'know? 'Oh my gosh you were a POW, thank you so much for your service.' And it's all BS, man."

One thing that did surprise Shipley is that Pollock seems to have been a good Sailor during his time in the Navy. He served for just about 4 years, on the Constellation and in Bermuda, before receiving an honorable discharge as a Petty Officer 3rd Class. Most of the time, if they did actually serve, Shipley finds the DD-214's of those who make false SEAL claims contain less than exemplary service.

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"Usually we see some really bad service," Shipley said. "Dishonorable discharge, brig time, just something you're terribly ashamed of. I'm not quite sure what it was here, but he had to build himself up. But when you start telling your wife, the kids, and all of your neighbors stories like that? You do have a problem."

And that problem is on full display in the original article. In what can only be described as incredibly ironic, Krol quotes Pollock as saying "I don’t care what job anybody did or does in the military, that’s what gives us our freedom and the way of life we enjoy."

Shipley said the Capital Gazette reached out to him about Pollock to fact check and verify everything, and even visited his home to do a story on how he verifies whether someone is a SEAL or not. After many years of Stolen Valor being mostly ignored by the media, and the termination of his popular Buds131 YouTube channel earlier this year, Shipley said it was nice to see a media outlet interested in the process, and making sure they got it right.

His overall advice about anyone who's ever said "there's not even records of my service it's so secret."

"There's classified missions, but there's no classified guys."

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