Punishment doled out after airman takes oath with hand puppet

Posted at 1:56 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 15:56:17-04

A Tennessee Air National Guard colonel and a senior noncommissioned officer were removed from their positions after a video posted online depicted a re-enlistment ceremony involving a dinosaur hand puppet, the Air Force Times reports.

The colonel, who administered the ceremony in which the senior noncommissioned officer wears the puppet on her right hand while taking an oath, was demoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and retired. The woman who took the oath with the puppet was removed from her full-time position with the Tennessee Joint Public Affairs Office.

The Air Force Times reports that the actions — announced in a Facebook post — came after a video of the ceremony ignited outrage online. 

Army Maj. Gen. Terry Haston, adjutant general for the Tennessee National Guard, said in a Facebook post Wednesday he was "certainly aware of a recent Facebook video post depicting a Tennessee Air National Guard Senior NCO re-enlistment" and was "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," Haston said. "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 said Tennessee National Guard leadership conducted a thorough investigation, leading to the actions against those in the ceremony. Haston also said a senior noncommissioned officer who recorded the event was reprimanded and removed from his position as a unit First Sergeant. However, he will be retained in the Tennessee Air National Guard, according to Haston.

A spokesman for Tennessee National Guard’s joint public affairs office, William Jones, said the video was made for the children of the woman who took the oath who were not in attendance, according to the Air Force Times. Jones said the ceremony was official.