‘The First Navy Seal’ Was Honored at the USS Hornet Museum. There Was Just One Problem…


At first look, 89-year-old William Goehner, a Seaman First Class in World War II, has quite an impressive resume:

  • Four-time Purple Heart recipient
  • Two-time Silver Star awardee
  • Youngest Lieutenant Commander in Navy History
  • Navy Cross recipient
  • Member of Underwater Demolition Team, ‘The First Navy SEAL’

He also claims to be the inspiration for the movie, “The Frogmen”:

His stories have been covered by multiple organizations and media outlets:

But after all these years as a celebrated war hero and the nation’s “first Navy SEAL,” somebody thought to check out his claims.

The Stolen Valor website got a tip that Goehner might be a phony and asked reporter Dan Noyes of ABC7 News to look into it. Now, the vet’s been busted.

In coordination with Senior Chief Shipley and Investigative Reporter Dan Noyes, William Goehner, of Santa Clara County California, gets busted for claiming to be the “Original Navy Seal” and the “Second most decorated Veteran of WWII”.

He fooled a lot of people including the USS Hornet Museum and the Library of Congress. Thanks to Dan Noyes for helping to get the truth.

A Santa Clara County man has been able to convince many people that he is the second most decorated soldier from World War II. The problem is, none of it is true.

Comments on the Stolen Valor Facebook page were searing. We had to clean up what commenter Johnny wrote:

My pops was dying in Ofuna Interrogation Center at the end of WWII. Ofuna was a Japanese Imperial Navy interrogation camp. Nobody knew about it. My pop took a vow of silence when he was captured and was beat and tortured without mercy. He never spoke. He received a purple heart and recently, the POW medal(posthumously). My father was a real life hero. 

Jay wondered what took so long:

(N)ot one person has questioned being a lieutenant commander at 19 years old? I understand some officers get instant rank for their specialty i.e. doctors. But this guy would’ve been the Doogie Houser of the Navy SEALs at 19. That alone did not make sense at all

Shawn couldn’t believe the guy wanted to enhance his resume, considering he was already part of The Greatest Generation:

He could have just used his own record. Being a WWII vet by itself is a big enough deal. It’s not just the younger generation that feels they have to lie. What a POS

Stealing Valor is not against the law. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that lies people tell about their service record is protected under the First Amendment, which is why websites like StolenValor.com and others keep track of the frauds themselves.

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