WREG Exposes Phony Navy SEALs

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(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.


  • John T. Dwyer

    It is unfortunate that one of these guys holds a position of trust involving minor school children, and the other involving armed security which, is monitored by state licensing officials. BOTH apparently lying about their involvement with a very prestigious military group.

    I used to call it “little man syndrome”. This is where the person is relatively poorly endowed sexually, and has to make up for it by saying he is a “big man”.
    Note the christmas tree decorations on the guards uniform. Note the huge SEAL poster on the Principal’s wall. The truly great or heroic people of this world make little of their past experiences or glory days.

    In a neighboring city, another person attempted to pass himself off as a SEAL while running for a public office. (Even to the point of having a SEAL tattoo on his arm.) I did the checking, confronted the goof, and found he too was a fraud. Campaign ended!
    Rest assured I am going to call these two birds to the attention of the State of Tennessee. If they have lied on their applications for licensure, they will be out of a job, or I will swear out the appropriate criminal complaint as it is a crime to lie on an official document.

    The questions I have for both is this: Navy SEAL’s killed Osama Bin Ladin who was the leader of many, many, suicidal terrorist followers. Don’t you think there are followers of this guy who would love to take revenge on the parties responsible, or their colleague’s? What makes you think that being around children or guarding some place full of people would stop them from taking you out along with them?

    • Dr. JohnS

      Thank you for the excellent post, I appreciate and you are correct. It is a shame that people need to feel important by claiming to be someone they are not.

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    WREG just needs to leave alone the Navy Seals ELITE!!! They DONT/WONT talk about about their job for their own SECURITY! DUH!

    • canadianwhiskeygirl

      Terrie, I realize that. I “flipped out” not stating the knowledge of the two imposters! I also meant to add Mr. Dwyer, good deal!

  • hootie2

    It is horrible that some people, bad people, lie about being military and especially an elite military specialist. Most of the real SEALs I have met don’t identify themselves as a SEAL. Those lying about it, is usually the first thing out of their mouth.

    • Dr. JohnS

      I know we have veterans living in Memphis, but when I see so many signs saying “A Vet. need food.” I have to question their motive.

      • NCOWife2

        There may be some shams, but some have major disabilities that will prevent them from working. For example, my neighbor in Texas complained about hearing voices, had severe bouts of depression, and never slept. He is a foot soldier and was one of the ones that had to kick in doors. I don’t know what happened to him over there and we certainly were not about to ask, but I had never seen anything that severe before and it really made me worry for his pregnant wife. In his case, there is no way he is capable of working anywhere else and he is currently in a holding pattern for mental health care.

  • Terrie

    @ John T Dwyer—PLEASE continue to do your research & call these idiots out-
    PLEASE call these waste out! That’s something their kind do to make themselves “appear” entitled to respect, free food at coffee shops etc. It’s extremely disrespectful and they should be called out. Especially Hinson being a Principal?? Is the high school going to check into his application to see if he lied on it? Will they fire him when they discover that he did? Because of the lies they are probably getting a higher wage too! Make them pay it all back!

  • Don Shipley

    Very nice job, Stephanie and WREG.

    Sadly, I don’t think Hinson cares very much about the impact his lies have on family, coworkers and the children he is responsible for. Perhaps if he met with the mothers, widows and children of fallen SEALs he’d have a better understanding of the words Stolen Valor.

    Parachuting him into Afghanistan is too much to ask but he should at least write ” I’ll never lie about being a Navy SEAL again” 100 times on the chalkboard after school.

  • John John

    There are a ton of guys out there claiming to be ex Navy seals. Most of these people didn’t even have the guts to serve in the military. If someone tells you they were a seal, chances are good they were not. There are a very,very small number of these real Seals out there and chances are even greater that you will never meet a real one. Deep six all these fakes, Bravo Zulu!

    • Erasmo Riojas

      SEaAirLand acronym for SEALs, USNavy SEALs that is.

      seals = are lil crtitters from the sea that have not yet learned to leap out of perfectly good airplanes.

      yo no gottee spilchicker?


  • joe

    not just Seals, but Delta Force, Special Forces, Rangers, Snipers, Recon, Swat, Tact, Security Forces. Part of their character is they don’t do the job for accolades.

  • mark w. morrison

    i was military administration, nation guard, not regular army. but both governed by the same rules. ask for their dd214 it will list all their mos
    ‘s training bases assignments enlistment date discharged reason for discharged. as for the excuse of being able to obtain the file, EVERY SOLDIER HAS THE RIGHT TO ACCESS TO THEIR 201 FILE.and if employers are hiring on the person in question has the right to verify all the facts submitted on the employment application, this needs to be verified just as their degrees s/b

  • John T. Dwyer

    For those of you interested:
    To inquire about the “SEAL” security guard and whether or not he has falsified his information:
    Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance
    Private Protective Services Division
    500 James Robertson Parkway
    Nashville, Tennessee 37243-1158

    To inquire about the “SEAL” school principal and whether or not he has falsified his information:
    Tennessee Department of Education
    710 James Robertson Parkway
    Nashville, Tennessee 37243
    (615) 741-5188

    Also, you might contact:
    Lake County School Board of Education
    819 McBride Street
    Tiptonville, Tennessee 38079

    All of these have websites you can use to make contacts

    I emphasize the school person because he may have forced out someone great for the kids, by lying about his SEAL experience to gain an advantage. Do you really want this type of character around impressionable school children?

    I add the security guard because if he will lie about this, what happens when something turns up missing at a place he is guarding?

    NOTE TO MS. SCURLOCK: I’ll bet both would really have got you to turn the camera off, if you had mentioned a polygraph!!!!

  • NCOWife2

    We moved here a year and 1/2 ago from Ft. Hood after my husband retired from the army. This whole story is a NON-STORY and has me and my husband shaking our heads. I can not believe this made the news. I am further disgusted at the notion that an ADULT would knock on the door of another adult and say, “I HEARD you have been going around town saying that you were a Seal [or any special forces member], now prove it.” If they chose to say that they were Mary Poppins, it is no one else’s business. I usually disagree with the NRA lovers, but in this case, it is too bad that Tennessee doesn’t have the same laws as Texas. Strangers knocking on doors and bullying others about a potential lie constitutes as Trespassing.

    • Bill Hoener

      If you don’t find people guarding businesses and communities and children lying about their qualifications consequential, maybe you should go back to wherever the F you came from. Lack of integrity and respect and lying are at the core of the downward spiral of this country. So here’s hoping you hire this guy for your neighborhood watch…he will be very honest and disciplined in performance of his duties before accepting your money…you can count on it (just don’t ask for a log or documentation.)

      • NCOWife2

        For your information…Born Here. Second of all, if these people were active military at ANY time, they are already qualified for security details. Why should anyone care what their MOS was? In times of war, a SOLDIER will put on their boots and salute the flag. You people act as though the only people worthy of honor are those that are members of special forces. Excuse me if I seem a little peeved, but that is an insult, especially with the number of deployments and service members that put their lives on the line everyday. AND many instructors that teach these guys are NOT special forces members. They may come from different branches of service and have occasionally been contractors (depending on the circumstances).

        Some of you have been out of the military too long and think you know what it is like now. Well, you don’t! Regulations change all the time. The military that you knew is gone. Would YOUR military have allowed known drug users, particularly heroine or cocaine? Would YOUR military have allowed an active soldier to kick his wife and kids out of military housing (this one is a daily thing)and let his girlfriend move in? And don’t get me started with Don’t Ask Just Tell (sarcasm).

        Another thing, the TTT (Troops To Teachers) program does NOT have a special forces requirement attached; therefore, I believe our children will be in excellent hands provided the structure that a military member can offer in our schools.

        Don’t judge a service member…thank one!

    • Bill Hoener

      And if you want to see bullying, watch Mr. Security interact with his employees…it is vulgar and obscene in its dehumanization.

Comments are closed.