Air Force Commander Violates the First Amendment

The Air Force is supposedly conducting an investigation after a video surfaced of retired Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez being forcibly removed from a ceremony at Travis Air Force Base, near Sacramento in California. The incident took place on April 3 during, the retirement ceremony of Master Sergeant Chuck Roberson.

A spokesman from the base said that the confrontation stemmed from “an unplanned participation” at the event.

“Rodriguez ignored numerous requests to respect the Air Force prescribed ceremony and unfortunately was forcibly removed,” a Travis official said. “We will continue to investigate the situation fully.”

As the American flag is unfurled next to Rodriguez on stage he begins is statement: “Our flag is known as the stars and stripes. A union consists of white stars and a blue field above it.

“Each star represents one individual state,” Rodriguez continued. “Together they stand united in the visible.”

But as he does, the two men push him off stage and eventually out of the room.

An Air Force Reserve statement release following the incident took the insult to a higher level by openly claiming it “respects and defends the right to free speech and religious expression.”

However, the incident is actually a result of “bad blood” between Rodriguez and the current commanding officer of the 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. That commander is said to have barred Rodriguez from the ceremony, and ordered that he be removed after showing up anyway.

As of September 2013, Colonel Jeffrey Pickard is commander of the 349th Maintenance Group at Travis. As group commander, it is his duty to oversee the activities of the squadron commander of the 749th.

According to Air Force tradition a retiree can invite and have anyone speak at his or her own retirement. If the commanding officer does not like someone’s ceremony, he doesn’t have to attend.

I think the commanding officer in this case needs to be relieved of his duties and issued an official written reprimand.

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