Phony Navy SEAL buried with military honors

by: John Knicely Updated:


A man who claimed he was a decorated Navy SEAL was buried July 24 will full honors at a cemetery reserved for military heroes.

But the man was a fake.

The man never served a day in the Navy, and officials at Tahoma National Ceremony were unaware of his bogus claims until KIRO 7 checked the man’s background and explained his phony documentation.

Now outrage is growing among actual military veterans, and some are calling for his remains to exhumed.

John Marcus Alberti died in April and had no next of kin. A friend went through his belongings and found a military discharge paper called a DD 214. The paper detailed how Alberti served as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam, winning numerous medals for bravery.

The document even said he was honored by President John F. Kennedy.

The friend, who believed Alberti served because of the document, took the paper to American Legion Post 78 in Auburn. Officials there worked with the Tahoma National Cemetery. Click here to download a PDF of Alberti's bogus military document.

On July 24, Tahoma National Cemetery gave Alberti a ceremony with full military honors. Post 78 originally posted pictures of the ceremony on its Facebook page.

But the paper has some glaring mistakes.

Navy SEAL veteran Don Shipley is dedicated to exposing fake Navy SEALs.  “Not to me. I saw it."

“The guy couldn't even spell Saigon,” said Navy SEAL veteran Don Shipley, who is dedicated to exposing fakes like Alberti.

For true military heroes to be buried at Tahoma National Cemetery, the cemetery needs a certified military discharge paper. But Alberti's fake discharge paper was good enough to fool the American Legion and cemetery staff.

Alberti was first exposed in 2008 thanks to the POW Network. Alberti was homeless at the time and staying with a couple in Kent.  They sought out the POW Network saying he told them stories of being a prisoner of war.  So the couple submitted the discharge paper to the POW Network.

The POW Network did a check to confirm his service and found Alberti was a phony.  At one point the network posted his name on its other site,

But in 2012, that site took down the names of those who’d been exposed as phonies.

KIRO 7 spoke to the director of Tahoma National Cemetery, who said they accepted Alberti, believing the fake military discharge paper was real.

In other cases, bodies have been removed from national cemeteries after officials determined the deceased were not eligible.  A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman told KIRO 7 the agency is still investigating Alberti's case.

“He needs to get out of there,” Navy SEAL veteran Don Shipley told KIRO 7.  “He's buried among heroes.”

KIRO 7 will stay on top of the story, checking with federal authorities and cemetery officials this weekend, and let you know what happens to Alberti’s remains.

Statement from American Legion Post 78

Prior to the interment of John Marcus Alberti and the Auburn-Reporter's published op-ed - written by a friend of Alberti - a Google search of his name produced little information aside from innocuous items such as FaceBook and LinkedIn pages. It was not until we were contacted by Don Shipley on Saturday (7/26) that we became aware of the "stolen valor" issue. On Sunday (7/27), a search of Alberti's name on the website produced absolutely ZERO results.

Auburn Post 78 had no knowledge of, nor contact with, Alberti prior to his death in April 2014. Alberti died on 4/18/2014 and his body was turned over to the King County Medical Examiner's Office in Seattle. In late April, Alberti's girlfriend of about 7 years contacted our Post service officer for assistance as Alberti had no known family and she was not legally his next of kin. She provided the Post with a copy of a DD214, that she apparently found in his possessions with a VARO Seattle "true copy" stamp and signature on the back.  The DD214 was taken to Tahoma National Cemetery to schedule interment. A representative there researched him on their system and determined he was eligible to be interred at TNC.

At this time, all postings and pictures regarding Alberti have been removed from the websites and Facebook pages over which we have control. We at Auburn Post 78 are extremely distressed that we may have played a role in interring a "fake warrior" in our National cemetery; however the last we heard, the folks at TNC say he is an eligible Navy veteran (disclaimer: being eligible to be buried in the National Cemetery does not in any way imply that the service/training/awards listed on the DD214 are correct).

Carol Reed
Adjutant, Auburn Post 78

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