Two active-duty members of the Tennessee Air National Guard were punished and another forced into retirement after a bizarre video surfaced of an airman reciting her Oath of Enlistment while using a dinosaur hand puppet.
The video first appeared on the Facebook group "Air Force amn/nco/snco" with the commentary "Remember when the Profession of Arms was taken seriously?!?"
In the video, a smiling colonel reads the oath off a piece of paper for the airman, later identified as Master Sgt. Robin Brown, to repeat. As she does so, she holds a red dinosaur puppet up with her right hand and uses it to mouth the words.
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The video has been viewed more than 2.7 million times on Facebook and prompted a barrage of criticism in the comments, culminating in a lengthy and blistering post by Army Maj. Gen. Terry Haston, the adjutant general for the Tennessee National Guard.
"I am absolutely embarrassed that a senior officer and a senior NCO took such liberties with a time-honored military tradition. 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," Haston wrote.
"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. The selfless dedication to our State, Nation that these men and women exhibit on a daily basis is without question."
Haston announced that the unnamed colonel who delivered the oath would be demoted one rank and retired, while Brown would be removed from her job and could face other consequences. The unnamed officer who filmed the ceremony was removed from his job as unit first sergeant and received a reprimand, Haston wrote.
Air National Guard Director Lieutenant General Scott Rice made his own statement on Facebook regarding the video, saying he was "equally shocked and dismayed by this event that mocks such a cherished and honorable occasion" and that the display "goes against our very foundation. "
It's still not clear what the context behind the surreal ceremony was. The Washington Post reports that there was speculation the ceremony was not official and was meant to entertain children, but an official spokesman told the paper it was real.
“This was not typical for a re-enlistment ceremony by any means,” William Jones, a spokesman for the Joint Base Andrews Public Affairs Office, told The Post. “And children were not present when the ceremony took place.”