(Memphis) They tell stories about being part of one of the most elite military groups in the world, but WREG-TV uncovered some claiming to be Navy SEALs are imposters.
SEALs, which stands for Sea, Air & Land, are part of the most daring missions.
They’re who the military turns to for jobs like finding and killing the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden.
Their status as the best of the best created a surge of imposters.
Don Shipley started the Extreme Seal Experience and made it his job to call them out.
Our conversations with Shipley led WREG to the small town of Tiptonville, Tenn., and the principal at Lake County High School.
We told principal Reginald Hinson someone sent us information about him being a Navy SEAL and we wanted to see if we could ask him about it.
He said OK.
Then we asked if he was a Navy SEAL.
He said, “Yes, I spent many years in the Navy.”
He then closed his office door so we could not continue our conversation.
Even though he first told us he was a Navy SEAL, after we told him we were investigating imposters, his story changed.
Hinson pointed to our camera and said, “I can’t talk to you if you have that on and I would appreciate you not putting that on TV, because I can’t talk about what I did in the Navy other than what my job was in the Navy.”
Hinson won’t confirm he was a Navy SEAL, but a huge poster with a Navy SEAL creed is plastered on his office wall.
WREG also found where he posted online he was a SEAL when he was looking for a job.
The story is also vague when it comes to the owner of the Ambassador Worldwide Protection Agency in Cordova.
When WREG approached him to tell him we’re investigating imposters, he also waved off our camera.
He said, “Stephanie, I can not confirm nor deny that. Off camera, if you don’t mind. Give me a second and I’ll talk to you.”
Shipley and his Extreme SEAL group had requests to check out Thomas Bolling’s SEAL credentials, too.
Bolling told WREG, “I’ve got a lot of people trying to discredit me and trying to discredit my company. If you Google my name, you’ll find all kinds of things, but these people are playing childish games and I don’t have time for it.”
WREG discovered an Illinois jury found Bolling guilty of false impersonation after he claimed he was a secret military police officer.
He even said nobody could confirm his assignment because nobody else knew about it.
Now, his credentials are questioned again.
“Are you a Navy SEAL and do you say your are?” we asked.
He replied, “Did you hear me say I am?”
Hinson eventually told us he was a SEAL instructor and served in the Navy for 17 years, but left for health reasons.
Part of that story checks out, but WREG found almost all SEAL instructors are SEALS themselves.
WREG talked to a legit Navy SEAL living in the Mid-South and verified his credentials.
He too is upset people are taking advantage of the integrity real SEALS have built.
We asked Hinson if he understood the concern from SEALS and their families.
“I don’t understand why they would care about what other people do and other people’s business and how other people served.”
WREG found there are secret SEAL missions, but there are no secret SEALs.
While it’s against the law to possess medals like the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor, there is no crime for lying about being a SEAL, and nothing can be done about it except verifying a person’s credentials.