Chances are if the name Don Shipley rings a bell for you, it is likely for one of two reasons: either you enjoy watching him call out, bust, and shame stolen valor phonies; or you are one of those phonies yourself.


Senior Chief Shipley’s Navy Career

Don Shipley is a retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief who served in uniform from 1978 until his retirement in 2003. Sr. Chief Shipley started his career in the Fleet Navy, where he would eventually meet his wife Diane; a fellow active-duty sailor. Sr. Chief Shipley and his wife were introduced to one another on that ship in the most austere of ways; Shipley was leading a training aboard the ship and his wife and her friends were talking in the back. Annoyed, Shipley told Diane and her friends to “shut the hell up or you can come teach this class your own damn self.” After that training ended, Diane approached Don and said “are you going to ask me out or what?” That was the beginning of a wild ride for the two of them that has now been 37 years in the making.

Don and Diane Shipley when they were young Sailors. (Task and Purpose)

I did an interview with Sr. Chief Shipley by phone to get a bit of his backstory and learn more about how he got into busting phony SEALs. One thing he told me about meeting his wife was that once he and Diane were married, the rules of the Navy dictated that one of them had to leave the ship. Shipley, knowing almost nothing about Navy SEALs other than having seen them training at Coronado, CA, decided that line of work seemed a lot more entertaining to him than life on a ship so he did a lat-move and received his orders to BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL) training.

Sr. Chief Shipley successfully completed BUDS and in 1985 was assigned to SEAL Team One in Coronado. For those who aren’t familiar, all odd-numbered SEAL teams are based out of Coronado and all even-numbered SEAL teams are based in Little Creek, VA, (with SEAL Team Six being located “across the street” from those even-numbered Virginia teams).

Following a couple of tours of duty on the West Coast, Sr. Chief Shipley made the swap to the east coast teams and became a member of SEAL Team Two. According to Sr. Chief Shipley’s website, “When not in a SEAL Platoon or deployed overseas his time was spent running blocks of training for SEALs in air operations, land warfare, and demolitions.” It continues, “As a SEAL he preferred the challenge of Mountain and Arctic Warfare but began his career in the equally hostile desert environment, spending much of his time in the world’s hottest and coldest climates.”

According to his website, Shipley served in eight SEAL Platoons, was platoon chief in five, and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism during a Search and Rescue Mission. As a SEAL, he conducted operations in Bosnia and Liberia and became the first non-Corpsman SEAL to graduate Paramedic School.

Sr. Chief Shipley receives an award. (Extreme SEAL Experience)