"We're Very, Very Shocked"

By Tony Shin
|  Saturday, May 29, 2010  |  Updated 4:26 PM PDT
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We're Very, Very Shocked

Air Force Colonel May Be Military Imposter

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We're Very, Very Shocked

Friends of John Thomas Tullis for years, a man they have always called "Colonel Thom" discuss the allegations that Tullis has lied about his military record.
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Margo Schwab is well known in San Diego' s high society for her on-line magazine "The Social Diary." Her husband, Scott Johnston, is co-owner of the website and for the first time the two are talking publicly about John Thomas Tullis.

A man they believed was a highly decorated Air Force Colonel who was known simply as "Colonel Thom.”

"He was a really good guy," Schwab told NBCSanDiego. "You always wish the best about everybody, that's the bottom line."

Schwab said she has known Tullis since the mid 90's and she would often see him at the many charity events around San Diego.

Schwab said Tullis told people he was a hero during the Vietnam War and wore many decorations on his chest including several medals of valor.

"Aside from Vietnam he said he was a pilot, B-52 in fact," said Schwab. "You wanted to believe this guy was THE patriot, he was serving America and doing great things."

Johnston, a retired San Diego Police officer, admired Tullis for his medals of heroism, especially the Purple Heart.

"It means I put my life on the line for somebody else," Johnston said. That's exactly what Johnston did as a police officer during the 80's. He received a law enforcement Purple Heart after being shot while saving the lives of two fellow officers.

"I was willing to die for them, that's why I'm very impressed by military men," Johnston said.

According to military records, Tullis was actually a staff sergeant and not a colonel and he never earned any medals of valor including the Purple Heart.

"We're very, very shocked to learn what's being alleged right now," Schwab said.

The husband and wife are hoping the accusations against their friend are false. "If it turns out that Thom Tullis has indeed stolen valor, I'm going to be extremely disappointed," said Johnston.

Schwab said a few months ago Tullis called her and asked her to remove any references about him being a colonel or war hero from her website.

A private group that investigates phony military veterans has reported Tullis to the FBI. It's unclear if the FBI is investigating him.

Tullis did not respond to recent emails from NBCSanDiego, asking for comment about the accusations.

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