John Watts – SEAL Team NONE

| April 3, 2023

John O. Watts

The folks at MilitaryPhony send us their work on this John Oscar Watts fella.  Watts wrote a book about his supposed time as a black Navy SEAL. It is called “Shadow S.E.A.L. – The True Story of One of the First Black Navy SEALs” which detailed his experience with racism during his time spent in BUD/S and SEAL Team One in Vietnam.

The claim on the front cover says it is a “true story” and “non-fiction” on the back cover. A news story was put out in November 2022 by the Race and Culture division of Channel 6 ABC news / Philadelphia.

In the newscast, Watts claims he was a US Navy SEAL in Vietnam. His book “Shadow S.E.A.L. – The True Story of One of the First Black Navy SEALs” highlighted Watts’ time as a Navy SEAL and the challenges he faced with racism as one of the first black Navy SEALs. The newscast caption claims that Watts is US Navy (Ret) but we didn’t see where he made the claim of retired.  

In Watts’ book, he paints a picture of himself struggling to prove himself and find his place in a US Navy SEAL world that appears – in his view – to be racist and unforgiving.  The SEAL community called him “Shadow” to avoid using a stronger racial slur – according to Watts.

His book does not mention a BUD/S class, but it does mention his two best friends while in BUD/S that became his swim buddies. Their names were Manuel Ortega and Frances Gardner. Watts suggests that Ortega and he were drawn together based on mutual persecution due to their ethnicities.

Excerpt from the book “Shadow S.E.A.L.”

Watts claimed that he served with SEAL Team One…

Photo from the book “Shadow S.E.A.L.”

Photo from the book “Shadow S.E.A.L.”

Watts wrote that when he had trouble getting care at the VA, he tried to prove he served in Vietnam as a SEAL with boots on the ground.  He said that they redacted all the references to SEAL from his military records due to the secrecy surrounding the SEAL units.  Also, he claimed that his records had burned up in a records fire – probably referencing the famous 1973 fire at the National Archives.

Excerpt from the book “Shadow S.E.A.L.”

TaRhonda Thomas with WPVI Philadelphia, PA ran a story about the racist claims of John Watts.

Since the newscast aired in November 2022, several Navy SEALs started asking questions since they didn’t recognize Watts’ name.

. . . . .

After contacting the UDT/SEAL archives and checking the UDT/SEAL database we found that there is NO record of “John Oscar Watts” or any other variation of his name ever completing BUD/S Training or being assigned to any SEAL teams. John Watts’ military records were ordered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Due to his age and claim of service dates, we filed with the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) which would maintain records from the Vietnam era.

. . . . .



FOIA Results – NPRC – John Watts – DD-214

FOIA Results – NPRC – John Watts – DD-215

Watts was discovered as a senior in the Gratz High School (Philadelphia, PA) yearbook in 1965.

Watts was discovered in the USS Oglethorpe (AKA-100) in 1966.

Then, there is a photo of Watts in the USS Okinawa i(LPH-3) n 1967.

Combined with a few files from Watts’ military records, it appears that he was a striker for small boats, and attended the assault boats school as a coxswain.


. . . . .


There is no record of John Watts graduating BUD/S-SEAL training.

There were no claims of rank to confirm.

Watts claimed that he served from 1965-1969. His military service record is consistent with that claim.

Watts’ record does support his claim of serving in Vietnam. Both with Vietnam Service and Campaign medals and a Combat Action Ribbon.

Records are not redacted for SEALs. Missions are secret but individuals that have served are not.  There was a fire in 1973 at the National Archives, but it was only Army and Air Force records that were affected – not Navy records.

If John Watts has used any of these claims to gain anything of value, he could be in violation of the Stolen Valor Act.

. . . . .

We reached out to TaRhonda Thomas with WPVI-TV Philadelphia, PA.  Months have gone by and all we got were crickets. Sloppy, uncorrected, racially charged false reporting is no way to make a living in my humble opinion.

TaRhonda Thomas Bio

I do not know what a “Race and Culture Reporter” is supposed to do. I guess pushing a false narrative from a man that could not have possibly had the racist experiences he claims as a Navy SEAL is acceptable to WPVI-TV Action News.  

Here is an example of John Watts’ false racist claims that TaRhonda Thomas and WPVI-TV are promoting with their story:

There are many reasons that this is utter nonsense. His “SEAL Drill Instructor” never said anything to him for two reasons. First, there is no such thing as a “SEAL Drill Instructor.” Second, Watts never attended BUD/S to go on and become a Navy SEAL. The total number of racist experiences he had while becoming a Navy SEAL was, Zero, Nada, Zip, Zilch, not one because it never happened.  

I would not recommend reading that collection of false accusations and racist nonsense published by John Watts. Warning, it does not come with brain bleach to cleanse the mind at the end.  

We have about 70 pages that detail John Watts’ military career.  He had every reason to be proud of what he actually did do.  

All of the sources contained herein are protected under Fair Use: “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright” 

I hope John Watts,  TaRhonda Thomas, WPVI-TV, learn from our scholarship, research, reporting, comment and criticism on this matter. At the minimum, we hope they correct the false allegations they have reported about some of the finest Americans to have ever walked the planet.  

Watts needs to get this nonsense off Linkedin: 

I know there are people out there waiting for us to publish many other cases. We get to them as best as we can.  Politicians embellishing how many Achievement Medals they have is not our highest priority at the moment… but we will get to them all. 

Category: Fake SEAL, Phony SEAL, Stolen Victimhood, Valor Vultures, Vietnam

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He served when other wouldn’t, that should be enough. Instead he makes up this story.


He wants to ride the “I was victim of racism Express”, but being an EN on small boats doesn’t want get you the attention you want. Like anything, just attach SEAL to anything military and you jump to the head of the line. Even though he is now exposed as a phony, calling him out with just be “raaayyyyyyssssiiiimmmm”.

Another clown shitting on honorable service. He came in as a non-rate, put in the work to strike Engineman, and served during troubled times. I hope Chief Shipley gets to “chat” with him.

Also, can I say that it seems more phonies are being uncovered. I know The WuFlu shut down the records pipeline, but I originally started following this site to see the fakers get busted. Me likely seeing clowns toasted.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

A-Div was in the Diesal engine repair shop in the forward part of the hanger bay in Air Dale country. Can’t believe he was in A gang after I left.


I have no doubt he experienced some form of racism, given the time period of his service. It just wasn’t the racism experience he’s trying to sell us.


“I have no doubt he experienced some form of racism, given the time period of his service.”

I agree. This was pretty much the time period I was in the Army. I saw racial hostility on both (there were only two races back then) sides. However, his statement—

” the hatred for me on the white faces …most of the white faces I looked at”

is assuredly BS, unless the Navy was much more racist than the Army. Most of the guys I knew didn’t give a damn about race, being draftees they just wanted to do their time and get out. The only two times I can remember the notorious “N” word being used were by a Mexican-American in RVN and a Lt. at Ft. Benning.

Then again, being young and stupid I may have missed a lot. And he may have been, understandably, overly sensitive–I saw that a couple of times.

A Proud Infidel®™

If he gets a visit from The Hair®™, I bet he’ll throw the ACME® Victim/Race Card™ during it!


John Watts, phony Navy SEAL, had a record that should have done him proud; he is a Vietnam Veteran. Unfortunately, his 35 years of dedication and faithful service apparently did not include an understanding of not coveting and not stealing.

If you go to the linked article, there is a hyperlink for readers to report typos/errors. If they value journalistic integrity as they claim, the numbers of error reports could make it hard for them to ignore the links to this site questioning the validity of one of their articles.

John Watts phony Navy SEAL with caption.jpg

He joined in JUL 65. One month later the Watts riots started.
The Beach Boys had just released “Help me Rhonda”
Pretty spooky shit…..uh-oh …can’t use that word.


Also, isn’t the male form of the name spelled “Francis” not “Frances”

He banked on the assumption that no one would fact-check him in fear of being called a racist.

Way to crap all over otherwise perfectly honorable service.


You are correct about the Frances thing. But plenty of Gardners have been SEALs and served well. I think he picked common last names for his imaginary outcast buddies to blend in a little better. If the other children were bullied then he must have been bullied too.


Yes, correct… as in:

Last edited 1 year ago by Anonymous
Daisy Cutter

John Oscar Watts = Jussie Smollett of US Navy SEALS

A Proud Infidel®™

Ooh *POW!*, right in the kisser! That or a Colin Kaepernick.


I don’t know which is more sad? Him shitting all over his otherwise great service with his fake claims of Navy Sealdom or his fake claims of civil rights struggle to go along with it. Many black people struggled and fought hard during that era for civil rights and he is stealing from them too with his fake claims.

Sad all around.


He stepped on his coxswain.

Skivvy Stacker

Awww man….

you went there.jpg

“Shadow” is a pretty cool nickname to get if it’s supposed to be derogatory.


Heh. In SERE our darker complected classmates were referred to as “Night Fighters.”


I’d take that one too. Only nickname I ever got was “Opossum” because one of my E-8s thought I looked…well…like a opossum. Probably doesn’t help that when threatened I play dead.


Hopefully not on the highway or we might have to start calling you Roadkill… 😜 


I have a black cat who actually prefers to go out and cause trouble catching/eating things during hours of darkess because he’s harder to see.


He should have taken it as a compliment—-

Green Thumb

What a fucking clown.


The photos of him in Viet of the Nam, DaNang harbor, with the
surrounding hills in the background are good enough proof for
me of his participation in that war. Anyone who has ever been
to DaNang would probably recognize the scenery.
Shame he had to step on his dick.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Danang Harbor is where 100+ crewmembers of my former USS Okinawa now have an Agent Orange problem. When she was anchored in the harbor, drinking water was taken onboard from an alonside barge and had the product in the water. Got this from Bill Hot Rod H. BT2.


I like to see him receive a phone call from ‘The Hair”.


Dumbass, embellishing POS. Perfectly Honorable Service is now a sh^t sundae with a rancid cherry atop it. Stolen Valor, indeed! And he is benefiting monetarily from his lies. Good news is that the Amazon Reviews have a few comments that appear to be torn from the pages of TAH, so the word is out there. He shoulda just called his book what it is…a work of fiction…or a book of lies.

Standing in the Blood and on the Bodies of True Warriors. Put a seal on your lies, Dippy.

Army-Air Force Guy

Wonder if the first 2-3 reviews were sock puppets? BTW, I doubt a real SEAL would wear a souvenir jacket that garish.

RGR 4-78



Stolen Racism should be against the law also.


Claiming victim to a fictional hate crime should be punished at least as severely as someone who actually committed a hate crime.

Not that I agree with hate crime laws – a crime isn’t necessarily more heinous because it was committed in the name of (flawed) principle rather than, say, greed. Yet, the laws exist and wrongly threatening someone with them should carry the same weight.

It’s so sad that Watts’s service should have been more than enough to hold his head high.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

HOLY SHIT, Watts the fuckin story. The story is that Watts served on the AKA-47 which we worked with while I was onboard the USS Okinawa LPH 3. He came aboard the Okinawa after I left in Nov of 1966. The above picture is from A Div. where I was.The only Snipes in the Picture that were there when I left is Szabo, Chief Bickel and Bucholz. The pic is from the West Pac 67 yearbook which I bought a copy of when I was at the 2007 Iwo Jima Class ship reunion in Chicago. You can go online and google USS Okinawa LPH 3 Reunite with old Navy Buddies and click on 1967 slot and see Watts. I’m in the 1964 slot. Just scroll down to Jeffrey M which has my baby faced pic. I see he vollentered for Swift boats. I did the same while we were still in Norfolk and for some reason, the request was given to GM 1 (Gunners Mate) Smitty and when he got ahold of me, put his hand on my shoulder and says, Kid, I don’t think that this is for you.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Other page had Buck and Dorfer when I left.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

What a shock when I read your post Dave. He must have come aboard right after leaving the AKA 100. Which I mistakenley typed in AKA 47. I sent in a pic of Watts in our diesel engine repair shop from the copy of the West 67 cruise book to 3 of our TAH contributers. Still can’t believe it. When I was in the ARNG back in 1975-1977 we had a CO that was involved in wrong doings. I didn’t know it at the time and when I started on TAH, the person was mentioned and I looked through my Paperwork during the time he was their out in Suffolk County NY and sent a copy to Jonn after I recognized his name.


Here ya go, Jeff



More like coxsucker

Retired Mustang

Let me “infringe” on John and LaTonya’s BS…you are both liars.


Just saw his eval marks, a solid three-0 sailor. On a four-0 scale. I’d love to view the write-ups.


I have a question about that. Does it (or did it back then) normally take a solid three-0 sailor to make it from E-1 to E-3 in 33 months? Seems like an awfully long time even by Navy standards. Maybe this question is better suited for Jeff (or some other older sailor) to answer, but I thought I’d throw it your way, anyway.


The 2.8 score in Military Behavior is pretty telling.
No idea of promotions in that era, but he’s a problem sailor by those marks.


Could’ve been a great movie of the week if he had correctly identified his story as “fiction”.

A Proud Infidel®™

HEHAD a record to be proud of until he shit all over it and his name with all that shit, Looks to me like he’s throwing the ACME Victim Card™ every chance he gets in a big “OH, POOR ME!!!” fit!



[…] This Ain’t Hell: […]


John Watts’ call sign at Brucie’s Bath House (Entrance in the Rear) is “Rump Rider 3”.

A Proud Infidel®™

HIS Secret Code Name while he was an Apprentice Towel Boy there was “Rump Ranger” before he flunked lunch and got fired.


When you get right down to it, this asshole’s stolen valor is actually worse than the usual valor thief’s. This turd didn’t just use SV to self-promote, he used it to defame his fellow sailors and by extension, the Vietnam era U.S. Navy.

It would imminent justice if he were prosecuted and made to pay for his treachery.


BTW, young Poe served from 59-62 and again from 64-67 with a tour in Vietnam and he never once heard a white NCO address a black trooper as “Nigger”.

He did, however, hear plenty of black NCO’s do it. And the black troops used the term constantly in addressing each other.

If it’s really such a horrible, disrespectful insult, why do they use it on each other so frequently?


Ditto, here. When I served in the 509th in Germany, about 40% of the two infantry battalions were black soldiers. All the platoon sergeants in my company were black. My first platoon sergeant, an SFC, was/is black. He enjoyed dressing down the privates who used that term. He was old school.


Yep, not all the black NCO’s played that game. Some of them would not tolerate the young black troopers using it on each other. In Vietnam, SGT Poe once watched another black E-5 beat the living crap out of a private who made the critical error of using the term on him.


It’s all about context. If you called me a mean SOB on a patrol, in the shit that would likely be ok. If we go over to my mother’s house and you walk up to her and call her bitch that would be a problem, I mean if she were still alive anyway.

But you understand that context matters?


If you think it’s merely a matter of context, 5JC, try using that specific term in any context around a group of young black males and see what they think of your context explanation… 🙄 


Suppose we were friends IRL and both us were actual bastards. If I call you a bastard and you call me one right back I’ll be good with it. But supposing someone else calls you (or me) a bastard and I might have a problem with that.

So yes, context matters.


Yeah, except the particular word that Poe is referring to is only allowed among individuals of that particular race. It doesn’t matter how tight you may be with a black person, if you use that word to your buddy, you’ll get off light if all he does is disown you. Use it with a group of them, you’ll wake up in a hospital if you wake up at all.


That was almost exactly my point.

To say it even more plainly since my examples keep missing…

Suppose I am in group that has been marginalized, mistreated and the victim of prejudice and identifed as such through derogatory words.

My group then chooses to wear the outside derogatory terms as a symbol of honor, unity and comradeship within my group. It changes the meaning within the group. We are saying we have a shared experience and identity. It doesn’t change the meaning for outsiders. It’s still derogatory when outsiders use it.

Not sure why this concept is so hard to understand. Most people understand it already.


If you will note, 5JC, my reply says, “…merely a matter of context…” not that it isn’t a matter of context.

Whereas you state quite unequivocally, “It’s all about context,” when the reality is it is a far more complex issue than your facile response indicates.

Do some research and you will find that the use of this term within the black community is the subject of widespread concern by responsible and respected black scholars and leadership within the non-entertainment and non-sports black communities.

Certainly it is about context but it most assuredly is not all about context. That one little adverb puts your thesis on thin ice. Young Poe’s English professors usually counseled against use of superlatives as modifiers as they are usually more easily discredited.

May Poe suggest that in this instance, usually might well have served you better? 😉 


I don’t get hung up on adverbs. But it is all about context. The context also within your question which had nothing to do with how liberal art professors talk and think and instead groups that actually use the term. I deal with such groups practically (look, see grammar nazi) every day.

I think you understand but I believe you are being deliberately obtuse which is fine by me. After you get over 60 the rules change and you can be grumpy like that.


5JC says, “I don’t get hung up on adverbs.”

Ah, but perhaps you really should when three little letters serve to define your entire premise. Some of those liberal arts professors actually do know their stuff.

Poe says, “Certainly it is about context…” Does that not indicate understanding and partial agreement?

The fact that you specify that you daily deal with groups that use the term says to ol’ Poe that you do not deal with black groups that do not use it with similar frequency.

You told Poe some time back that you are not a lawyer but are in a related field–are you LE? Your daily dealing comment prompts that. I know rayciss… 🙄 

Oh, and Poe prefers spirited to grumpy 😜 


Dave, will you or some other admin please see if you can find 5Jc’s sense of humor?

It appears to have gone sadly AWOL tonight… 🤔 


Disregard–looks like he’s found it…


Poe, I was just merely trying to give you good adverb feels. But you clearly missed the point after all. Now I have a bigly sad. Your normal posts are hugely smarter than that.

Also, I served in the Army proudly for 24 years and the public usage of that word in the military was happily forced out long before my lengthy tenure. So clearly I dealt daily with groups that didn’t use it; certainly not around me. They may have ardently wanted to use it but; fear of strident repercussions kept them from the path of vicissitude. Free speech not being a right that the military is beholden to grant.


Forced out? Are you joking? How often were you in the troop bays?

True, officers rarely heard the term used but not because it wasn’t.

When Poe was a brigade staff NCO in the 82d in 1967, the staff officers came to him for updates on deteriorating race relations because he was the rankingNCO living in HHC barracks.

Race problems were rarely an officer concern until suddenly they were.

Two weeks after Poe ETS’d in ’67, Bragg had black race riots, just as Poe had warned those skeptical staff officers.


ETS B4 I was born. lololol.


That explains a lot 😜 


That’s the million dollar question I’m always asking


Poe, you NAILED IT!! Perfectly.


There were about 10 to 12 SEALS from SEAL Team One in Da Nang when our hero was there. But he wasn’t one of them. They were advisor/trainers for the Vietnamese Navy’s Sea Commando’s. They were known as the Naval Advisory Detachment and were part of MACVSOG’s clandestine operations. I visited their base in 1971 and got a tour of their operations center and their Norwegian built plywood PT boats called “Nasties.” Since one had to have at least a Secret security clearance to enter the facility. I doubt Watts ever even saw a SEAL in Da Nang. He was a REMF just like everyone else serving in Da Nang other than the pilots and the CCN recon teams. Da Nang was so secure, I used to drive my jeep over to the airbase in daylight without a weapon. (I was always issued a .38 revolver with my survival vest and gear when I flew backseat in an OV-10)


I don’t know what race relations were like in the Navy back then, but I never observed any overt racism against black soldiers in my almost six years of active duty from 1968 to 1974. My initial Ranger buddy at Ranger School was/is Black. The instructors picked on all of us equally, irrespective of the color of our skin. The worst victim of abuse was a reserve Major Special Forces officer who was white. Those E-5 instructors really enjoyed messing with him.

So, I seriously doubt Watts had a “drill instructor” that regularly called him the N-word. I also don’t think the instructors at BUD/S were even called “drill instructors.”
Bottom line: His records prove he is a lying fraud.


And the absolute epitome of a Blue Falcon with his phony defamatory account…


Yes, he has earned the infamous blue falcon award instead of a budweiser.


comment image


Dang, Counselor, why didn’t ol’ Poe think of that Budweiser play? 😜 


Budweiser – The King Queen of Beers

Go woke or go home!

jeff LPH 3 63-66

After I left the USS Okinawa in late Nov of 1966, She left for San Diego with a crew change and I heard that their were a lot of racial problems aboard the ship. Also a Mary Jane problem because the Marines were bringing grass aboard after they came back from a Viet-Nam Op.


“Da Nang was so secure”

In fact, it was so secure it earned the name Rocket City.
I remember watching the tank farm burn for a week.
Felt safer up in the surrounding hills.


Not that the Talibastards didn’t try…


Welp, I should have said except for the 122 mm rocket attacks. But carrying a sidearm wouldn’t protect you from one of those. During the five months I was stationed there, there were only three rocket attacks on the air base, killing one person.


It was the Air Force guys that took most of the casualties during my time. The barracks were a
favorite target. They were two story wooden barracks
just like back home.
I was always armed with a .45 within city limits but yeah, not much help against incoming.
There is a record of all the number of rounds and dates somewhere on the internet.
I was looking for a particular date and found the list
but can’t seem to find it now.
Would be a good reference for this site to weed out claims.


One hell of a service record
no reason too embellish it


Does the phony book’s author know that he was conned
into writing (and publishing) a steaming pile?

He posted about his book July 2022.
But only 1 click on the Book of the Fake.

2022 07 24 Author FaceBook post.jpg

Katz’ Facebook page is open for comments. I wonder if he is aware that he took part in writing a book of fiction vs. non-fiction, as it is improperly labeled the latter.


I wonder the same.
Katz should know by now,
but his old post remains up,
surely to get some new love and attention.

Reminds me of Martin Blank
and his mistress / author Janet S.

GHOST WARRIOR is STILL floating around.
A quick deployment of the FU of Google this morning,
found THIS on eBay.

GHOST WARRIOR Martin Blank and Janet S book on eBay 2023.jpg

Holy crap.
Hilarious 2022 NEWER reviews here.

It appears Martin and Janet RENAMED their book,
and put it out AGAIN.

NEW book name… A Warrior of Last Resort: Special Forces Soldier in the Vietnam and Cold War Eras Paperback – December 30, 2019 by
Martin G Le Blanc (Author),
Janet Gottlieb Sailian (Author)


He had a legit service history that anyone should be proud of. And then he does this shit.

Joe R.

Happy to find it to be untrue. Don’t know any Navy SEALS personally but, from what I know of them it would be hard to even think this of them. I think that’s one of the reasons that push-back on this should be 110%.

Brooks Allison

This is where “stolen Valor ” should be exercised as he benefited financially from his lies and should be jailed.