John William Zelenock, BUD/S grad phony SEAL

| June 1, 2017 | 52 Comments

Our partners at Military Phonies share their work on John William Zelenock with us. He claims that he was a Navy SEAL and that he was also part of the search and rescue (SAR) effort at the Beirut bombing on October 23, 1983;

According to Military Phonies, the USS Saratoga was going through sea trials in October 1983 and the ship didn’t deploy until 1984.

Here’s what he claims that he earned;

According to his records, he did graduate from BUD/S but he didn’t complete the training to be a SEAL. His only awards, as far as I can tell are two sea service ribbons and the NDSM;

He also bumped into some non-judicial punishment (NJP) according to the United Press International;

Military Phonies also found some evidence that he was a bad boy after he left the Navy, but I don’t do that stuff, you’ll need to go over there to read about his arrests.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (52)

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    I read through all of that over on Military Phony.

    I had questions about the student’s fear of water and why he’d join the Navy in the first place, if that was his problem, but it’s in the past and what’s done is done, and can’t be undone.

    But this guy just annoys me.

  2. Jay says:

    Wait….so the guy legitimately made it through BUD/S but STILL had to embellish? Dude….

  3. Jabatam says:

    At least he graduated BUD/S

  4. CWORet says:

    Wow. A real live unicorn. The folks at Military Phonies appear to have enjoyed this one. Outstanding research.

  5. AW1Ed says:

    Oh. Hell. No. He’s from MY Rating? He went to HS-1, so that means he was an SH-3 Sea King crewmen. So Aircrew and BUDS wern’t enough, and he’s involved in the Mirecki incident at the Navy Rescue Swimmer School? This clown has “shitbird” written all over him.

  6. Non Cedo Ferio says:

    I have a? I know. I know NCF , you always seem to have questions. Lol my ? Is this so besides Airborne , what other follow on training after Buds completion is required before someone gets the coveted Trident and joins the teams?

  7. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    Wow… I remember hearing about the incident in ’88 (I was at Corpus Christi at the time). Thought that he should have been blessed that the Navy didn’t kick him to the curb because of his role in it. But, after seeing the stuff over at Military Phonies, I guess the message didn’t get through.

  8. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    Here’s a link from the Chicago Trib’s story on it… page 2 has what role Zenelock had in the incident:

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      I read the Tribune article, and a couple of the articles linked on the sidebar, and this guy Zelenock is, in my personal opinion, a slimeball who belongs in Teti’s company. They belong on the same deserted island where they can tough each other out.
      What. A. Shitbag.

  9. Hondo says:

    What puzzles me most about this case is the fact that the guy apparently was selected to attend BUD/S roughly a year AFTER the incident in which the trainee died, and for which he received an Admiral’s Mast.

    Seems to me that Mast would have put him on the fast track for administrative separation vice attendance at one of the Navy’s most competitive schools.

    Navy guys, please – am I out to lunch here? Or does that seem as fishy to you as it does to me?

    • IDC SARC says:

      Totally fishy…he would have had to put his last 3 evals in his package for BUDS and there’s requirements for schools including records of NJP…dunno how he would have even gotten approval unless his Career Counselor was putting in a package that made sure there were no visible red flags.

      When he reported though with his Service Record unless that too was purged somehow, he should have been flagged then.

      I know nothing of the admin department in Coronado though, so…no real idea. I have seen guys in my career though that somehow can charm their way through into places they should never have been allowed.

      • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

        I’m thinking the same thing… someone “cleaned up” his record. His mast should have been a ‘no-go’ for any schools for a while, if ever (especially one that made the national press) and I’d think someone would have told him to finish up his enlistment and leave at EAOS.

        Military Phonies pointed out in the records from NPRC that some of the dates of the courses he attended don’t match his Chronological History of Assignments. Sounds like he, or a buddy, had a history of altering his service record to make him look like a good Sailor.

    • Dave Hardin says:

      He reminds me of Joe Teti. Teti or The Runt as I call him, was sent to Force Recon right after basic training. He graduated from the basic Recon crs in Little Creek but was skimmed out of the pool during the first part of scuba qual. Fail a crs in Force Recon and you are generally gone, as Teti was. He was sent to pick up cigarette buts on barracks duty but talked his way back in a division recon unit. Then The Runt went Army forged graduation certs for courses he did not complete and got them entered in his Army records. We still have The Runt in court. Some of these little shits can be crafty.

  10. Graybeard says:

    So John William Zalenock is a failure after all.


  11. lily says:

    We shouldn’t have ever started this medals system. A lot of stolen valor would have been avoided.

    Look at what was said about the Medal of Honor.

    When the Civil War started in 1861, the United States had no awards for military service although, in the Mexican-American War of 1846, there had been a Certificate of Merit but this had been discontinued. Toward the end of that first year of the war, a proposal was made for some recognition for conspicuous gallantry in action to be awarded but the commanding general of the army, Gen. Winfield Scott, did not like the idea. He thought it to be a European tradition and said no.

    It was left to the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, to resurrect the idea for an award for valor and on Dec. 21, 1861, Abraham Lincoln signed the law creating the Navy Medal of Valor.

    Now look at this progression of insanity ->

    • Cris says:

      So, recognizing someone for doing something heroic or valorous should be avoided just to keep lowlife, bottom sucking miscreants from being forced to make up their pathetic stories is your answer? I bet you also blame the victims of criminals…if only he didn’t have money I wouldn’t have robbed him.
      So, one General doesn’t like medals and he’s the only authority we should listen too?
      The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington on August 7, 1782.

    • Graybeard says:

      lily, I respectfully disagree with the sweeping statement – although that may have been hyperbole on your part.

      Even if, as in the case of my father (WWII vet), one seldom brings ones medals out to display, many of them are ways of thanking and recognizing ones service.

      Any “thank you” ought to be sincerely given and graciously accepted. That the system has gathered some “participation trophies,” as some view them, is not sufficient cause to forego all tokens of appreciation and recognition.

      Even the NDSM is a recognition that one has served when many have not. It may or may not be superfluous to being a veteran, but it can be considered a sincere thank-you for volunteering.

      • lily says:

        It’s reasonable to say the award system has gotten out of control. Look at the photo graphs I posted. At this rate in 200 years both legs of a general will be covered in ribbons. George Washington gave a purple heart badge, not a medal. Then for the next 50 years no medals were given.

  12. Cris says:

    I do agree that there are some medals/ribbons we can do without, but to sh*tcan the whole thing seems just as stupid. But, we do live in this era of winning doesn’t matter as long as you participated and feel good about it. Oh, and by the way, here’s your participation trophy…

  13. Just An Old Dog says:

    Looking at the incident where the trainee drowned Zelenock appears to have been one of the ones caught on the fringe of it with several other instructors. He and two others were given NJP and suspended reduction in rank two were busted and the Instructor that pulled the trainee under was taken to a CourtMartial.

  14. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I wonder WTF was going through their minds when they threw that trainee back into the pool after he darted out and grabbed an equipment rack in a panic fit especially after they had that letter from a Psychiatrist? Maybe they were just acting like a high school jock clique and their shit-for-brained ego feeding stunt cost a young Sailor his life?

  15. Green Thumb says:


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