Bob Pollock became known as perhaps one of the most dedicated people around Crofton, Maryland committed to honoring those who serve the nation. It only made sense, as the creator of the Two Rivers community monument told neighbors and friends he was a former Navy SEAL and had been a prisoner of war.
Except he wasn't.
Pollock dedicated a monument to first-responders and military personnel at the Two Rivers community center near Crofton last week, telling The Capital community columnist Melissa Driscoll Krol that he served as a Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War. In front of the crowd of community members and public officials, Sen. Ed Reilly called Pollock -- his friend and neighbor of 20 years -- "a true American patriot."
After Krol's column was published online Monday, multiple people reached out to The Capital accusing Pollock of being a fraud. When asked about the accusations and lack of records to prove his Navy SEAL status, Pollock denied claiming to ever be a SEAL or POW.
However, in a recorded interview with Krol, Pollock said clearly he had served in the Navy special operations force.
"I was a Navy SEAL. I was one of the first...," he said to Krol at the event.
Krol, herself a veteran, said she had heard he was a SEAL. When asked Wednesday about his claim, Pollock denied it despite being reminded about the recording.
"I worked with them, but that was it," Pollock said. "Please accept my apologies. I don't remember saying that. It caught me totally by surprise when I read it in the paper. I don't know what to do."
Friends said Pollock had talked about his SEAL and POW status for years.
His wife, Nancy Pollock, said it was what she believed for years. She said her husband told her he also worked on a special project with the SEALs in Vietnam.
"All I know is when I met him, that's what I knew," she said. "I of course assumed he was a SEAL but I don't know if that project had him working with the SEALs, I don't know. It's unbelievable."
Don Shipley believes Pollock served in Vietnam, as from what he's seen Pollock was a meteorologist on the USS Constellation as he's told people.
But Shipley, a Cambridge resident who has dedicated his time to exposing people who falsely claim to be SEALs, says he could find no proof Pollock ever completed SEAL training or was a SEAL in any way.
A spokeswoman for the Naval Special Warfare Headquarters confirmed there is no record of Pollock being a SEAL.
Shipley said he and other members of the POW Network, which runs fakewarriors.org, get Google Alerts for the phrase "Navy SEAL," and request military records for everyone claiming to be a SEAL or POW.
"I knew it was BS as soon as I saw the POW thing. No SEAL has ever been a POW. He wasn't either, hoisting weather balloons off the USS Constellation," Shipley said.
"Thanks a lot for your service, but don't go out and lie to people and ruin the reputations of your wonderful newspaper and a woman who is trying to tell the truth."
Reilly said he knew Pollock has told people he was SEAL and POW over 20 years. They were neighbors in Crofton before Pollock moved to Two Rivers a few years ago.
"He sure fooled me," Reilly said after being told of accusations against Pollock. "What a shame."
Falsely claiming to be a Navy SEAL or POW is more common than people think, Shipley said.
"No one is more targeted for fakes than Navy SEALs are, no branch of service or profession in this country. There are fewer than 10,000 living Navy SEALs in the country. There's a thousand impostors for every living Navy SEAL.
"Your chances of bumping into a Navy SEAL are about as good as sitting in coach on an airplane next to Obama."
Community columnist Melissa Driscoll Krol contributed to this article.
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