A man was verbally accosted and slapped at a pizza restaurant on the anniversary of Sept. 11 by a woman who said he was lying about being a Navy sailor.
But Sean Nolte Jr., who was in uniform at Central Pizza in Berlin, Connecticut, is indeed a serviceman for the Navy. Photos dating back to 2020 show him at Naval Station Great Lakes, with the chief of the fire department he volunteers for also confirming his service.
Nolte said the encounter began Saturday when the woman kept staring at him as he waited inside the pizza restaurant. The sailor gave a polite smile to the woman, who first spoke to Nolte as she was exiting.
“As she leaves, she looks at me and says, ‘Nice smile,’ very sarcastically,” Nolte said. “I reply, “Thank you, have a nice day, ma’am.’”
She returned to the store seconds later and told the restaurant’s staff, “He is a fake by the way, my husband is in the Army,” according to Nolte. The man showed the woman his military ID, but she was not convinced it was real.
He said he continued to be polite to the woman, giving his thanks to her husband for his service. A TikTok video shows the final moments of the incident, right before her actions turned physical.
“This is disgusting,” the woman said to Nolte, as shown in the TikTok video (Editor’s note: Warning, the video found in the link contains some graphic language.) She throws his cap on the ground and slaps him in the face, Nolte said.
“You disgrace the USA,” she said while yelling obscenities.
Nolte said on Facebook he maintained his professionalism and wished the woman a nice day.
“Well, looks like some of our own people can’t recognize authenticity when they see it,” he said in his post.
Police in Berlin said earlier this week that it was investigating the incident and was attempting to identify the woman. In an updated post Wednesday, Chief Chris Ciuci said the woman has since been positively identified after several tips came in.
The woman, whose identity was not publicly disclosed, has not been charged as of Wednesday while police continue to investigate.
According to Nolte’s Facebook page, he works as a submarine electronics fire control technician for the Navy. In July, a local TV station saluted him and thanked him for his service.
“Sean’s a really good guy. He joined us right out of high school and we’re lucky to have him,” Chief Nick Wachter of Rescue Fire Company 37, a volunteer fire and EMS department in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, told the Hartford Courant. “He enlisted in the Navy so he’s not local anymore, but he’s still a member.