The Tennessee Air National Guard colonel who led a re-enlistment ceremony in which a senior noncommissioned officer recited her oath using a dinosaur puppet has been immediately retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Army Maj. Gen. Terry Haston, the adjutant general for the Tennessee National Guard, also announced in a Facebook post Wednesday that Master Sgt. Robin Brown, the SNCO whose videotaped re-enlistment ceremony created a firestorm online, has been removed from her full-time job with the Tennessee Joint Public Affairs Office and is facing other administrative actions.
Haston also said that another Tennessee Air National Guardsman — an unidentified SNCO who videotaped the event ― has been removed from his job as unit first sergeant and has been reprimanded. That SNCO will stay in the Guard.
Brown could be identified in the video because she said her name as part of the re-enlistment oath.
Randy Harris, the director of joint public affairs for the Tennessee Military Department, refused to identify the other airmen who have been punished.
William Jones, a spokesman for the joint public affairs office for the Tennessee National Guard, said that it was an official re-enlistment ceremony. Brown’s children were not in attendance, Jones said, but the video was made for them to watch later.
However, screenshots of an online conversation that were posted online showed someone from the Tennessee Military Department initially said the ceremony was “not an official reenlistment.” Jones said it was unknown who wrote that, or why it was initially said to have been unofficial.
“I am absolutely embarrassed that a senior officer and a senior NCO took such liberties with a time-honored military tradition,” Haston wrote. “The Tennessee National Guard holds the Oath of Enlistment in the highest esteem because that oath signifies every service member’s commitment to defend our state, nation and the freedoms we all enjoy. Not taking this oath solemnly and with the utmost respect is firmly against the traditions and sanctity of our military family and will not be tolerated.”
“The Tennessee National Guard leadership as a whole is appalled by the actions of these individuals, which do not represent our nation’s service members nor the airmen and soldiers of Tennessee,” Haston continued.
In the video, Brown wears a dinosaur puppet on her right hand and has the puppet mouth the words as she recites her re-enlistment oath.
Brown’s re-enlistment ceremony took place on Friday. By Saturday, it had been reposted on the unofficial Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page and quickly went viral, drawing widespread scorn online from many who felt her actions were disrespectful.
The colonel was also criticized for allowing the ceremony to proceed with the puppet, as well as for not raising his own right hand and for not having the oath memorized. He read the oath off of a piece of paper.
On Monday, Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard, posted a statement on Facebook blasting the video.
“I’m equally shocked and dismayed by this event that mocks such a cherished and honorable occasion,” Rice said. “This action goes against our very foundation.”
Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Anderson, the command chief master sergeant of the Air National Guard, also posted on his official Facebook page Tuesday expressing his dismay.
“Many of you have sent me FB messages or commented within FB threads, clearly that same video has struck a nerve within our community ― rightfully so,” Anderson said. “This act in no way represents who we are as a force.”
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.