A photojournalist assigned to Ramstein Air Base in Germany is under investigation after repeatedly using a racial slur in a public Facebook group over the weekend.
According to screenshots posted on the unofficial Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco, Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker used the term “Ching Chong” — a slur referring to Chinese people — at least three times in the YokotaTalk group.
Baker is a photojournalist in the public affairs office at the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein.
Baker was responding, in a hostile manner, to an unidentified person who posted in the group, expressing a desire to one day come to Japan, and eventually said, “Okaaaaay don’t listen to stupid people like Ching Chong up there,”
Other members of the group called Baker’s remark out as racist, and she responded, “You are Ching Chong. Bye now.”
Later, Baker responded to another comment by saying “Ching Chong say what?”
Lt. Col. Joel Harper, chief of public affairs for the 86th, denounced the posts in a comment Sunday on the original Facebook post. Harper later confirmed to Air Force Times that he left the comment.
Harper also confirmed Baker made those comments from her personal Facebook account, which no longer appears to be online.
“These reports are troubling — we will take appropriate action after reviewing the details of what happened,” said Harper. “There is no place in our Air Force for this — we are on it.”
Harper told Air Force Times that Baker’s actions are “being evaluated by her chain of command.”
He said he could not comment on any actions being taken against her, but said there has so far been no change to her duty title and that she is “performing duties commensurate with her grade at public affairs.”
“She is aware of the severity of her actions and has expressed remorse,” Harper said.
The amn/nco/snco page on Sunday posted screenshots of a private conversation in which Baker blamed her comments on intoxication.
“At the time that I used those slurs against you I was in no shape to be on social media,” Baker said. “I was intoxicated and I had no grasp on how ignorant and racist what I said was. I thought I was just being rude.”
The incident happened nearly two months after another airman, Tech. Sgt. Geraldine Lovely at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, posted a profane video on Facebook in which she made derogatory comments about black female airmen and noncommissioned officers under her command.
Nellis officials said Lovely was held accountable for her actions, but would not say specifically what happened to her.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.