National Guardsmen punished over video of oath recited with hand puppet
Three Tennessee Air National Guardsmen have been disciplined after a video surfaced appearing to show a master sergeant miming her oath of reenlistment with a dinosaur puppet on her raised right hand.
"I am absolutely embarrassed that a senior officer and a senior [noncommissioned officer] took such liberties with a time-honored military tradition," said Maj. Gen. Terry M. Haston, adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard, in a statement Wednesday.
"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 added.
According to the statement, the colonel who administered the oath was demoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and "immediately retired," and the senior NCO holding the puppet was removed from her position with the Tennessee Joint Public Affairs Office, with "other administrative actions" underway.
The senior NCO who recorded the video was officially reprimanded and removed from his billet as unit first sergeant but will stay with the Tennessee Air National Guard.
According to an Air Force guide for protocol, though a reenlistment ceremony "may be conducted in any place that lends dignity to the event," both the reenlistee and reenlisting officer "must wear an authorized uniform for the ceremony."
While use of a puppet may be abnormal, unorthodox reenlistment ceremonies are not unheard of, with military members taking their oaths while being exposed to CS gas, suspended on a rappelling tower, or even in military planes before jumping out and parachuting to earth.