"What In the World Was He Thinking?"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty/NBCSanDiego
    Former friends of John Thomas Tullis (R) doubt that he ever flew missions to find Osama Bin Laden (L).

    Former friends bring new accusations to light against a local man accused of being a phony Air Force colonel and decorated war hero. One said the man known in San Diego's social circles as "Colonel Thom" bragged recently that he had flown missions to find Osama Bin Laden.

    Two former friends want to see Thom Tullis charged under the Stolen Valor Act for allegedly lying about his service in the Air Force.

    Friends Make New Accusations Against "Col. Thom"

    [DGO] Friends Make New Accusations Against "Col. Thom"
    A former friend said the man known in San Diego's social circles as "Colonel Thom" bragged recently that he had flown missions to find Osama Bin Laden.

    Nolan Spencer was in the U.S. Army and has known Tullis for about ten years.  "I had a hard time with Thom from the beginning," he said admitting at the same time that he had accepted Tullis as a friend because others told him that Tullis had a good heart.

    Still, Spencer says he didn't like the way Tullis would constantly brag about being an Air Force Colonel and highly decorated war hero.

    We're Very, Very Shocked

    [DGO] 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.

    "You could tell Thom was done bragging because he wasn't speaking," said Spencer.

    Spencer and retired Army Captain Matthew Shillingburg knew Tullis through the fraternal organization "Friendly Sons Of St. Patrick."  Both Shillingburg and Spencer are members and said Tullis was also a member until 2006 when he was kicked out.

    "He talked about how he flew missions in Vietnam and also most recently that he flew missions to find Osama Bin Laden," Shillingburg said.

    According to Spencer, the membership got rid of Tullis after he allegedly confronted the widow of a fallen U.S. Marine during an event in San Diego.

    Spencer claims Tullis criticized the woman's husband, who was a platoon leader in Iraq, for his service during the war.

    "Thom Tullis took it upon himself to castigate the memory of her husband in such a way that it was reprehensible to all of us there," said Spencer angrily.

    "It's a betrayal, not only to me, but all those who have served," said Shillingburg.

    According to the military, Tullis was a staff sergeant and not a colonel in the Air Force, and he never received any medals of valor, contrary to the numerous medals that he has worn in several pictures. He's been seen at charity events around San Diego wearing, among other things, the Purple Heart, Silver Star and the highly distinguished Air Force Cross.

    Retired Marine Corps. Lt. Col. Thomas Richards is an investigator for the private group Stolen Valor Task Force. Richards said military records show that Tullis was discharged from the Air Force after serving in the 70's during the Vietnam era.

    But Tullis was a staff sergeant and not a colonel. He did receive five awards and medals, but he did not receive a Purple Heart, Silver Star or Air Force Cross.

    "It's a misdemeanor, but it's one that we take very seriously and is punishable under federal law up to one year in prison,"said San Diego F.B.I. spokesperson Darryl Foxworth.

    F.B.I. agents said they are aware of Tullis but could not confirm if he is being investigated.

    The Air Force Times has also featured Tullis in a recent article.  The writer further confirmed what NBCSanDiego has already reported about Tullis and his military record.

    "I would like to sit down with Thom and ask him, what in the world was he thinking," said Spencer.

    Tullis would not comment on the new accusations when contacted by NBCSanDiego.