Travis AFB, California – Retired Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez was forcibly removed from a colleague’s Air Force retirement ceremony when he began to make a statement honoring the American Flag. It turned a retirement event into an embarrassment for both the retiree and the attendees.
The ceremony was held at Travis AFB for Master Sergeant Chuck Roberson of the 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Rodriguez was invited to speak at the event, and his flag piece had been cleared through the proper channels. Or so they thought. He had performed that flag speech numerous times over the years, and people enjoyed it. Well, except for the commanders at this ceremony.
As the American Flag was folded beside him, he began to speak,
“Our flag is known as the stars and stripes. A union consists of white stars and a blue field above it. Each star represents one individual state. together they stand united in the visible…”
Three men in camouflage approached him and two of them pushed him off the stage. As he continued to shout the words, he was eventually pushed out of the room.
The official statement from the Air Force Reserve reads:
“The Air Force Reserve respects and defends the right to free speech and religious expression. The disruption of a recent retirement ceremony at Travis Air Force Base, California by retired Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez stemmed from an unplanned participation during the flag-folding ceremony portion of the event. The narrative associated with the ceremony is determined by Air Force Instructions and was not the version initiated by the retiree. Rodriguez ignored numerous requests to respect the Air Force prescribed ceremony and unfortunately was forcibly removed. We will continue to investigate the situation fully.” Air Force Reserve Statement
A commander with a grudge
The truth, however, is something else entirely. Rodrigeuz participation was not unauthorized or unplanned. A friend of Mr. Roberson stated:
“The squadron commander and Oscar have issues from years ago the commander said he did not want him in the building nor saying the words to the flag…
Remember he is my friend’s guest. So instead of letting him finish what he started saying he had his trolls assault him dragging him out of the building as you can here [sic] him still saying the words to the flag. And you can here joe saying’ do it do it…
Theater is full of family and guests and fellow Air Force members. This could have been handled in a much better way instead of tainting my friend’s retirement. This is how we treat our fellow Air Force veterans. Yes I’m pissed off.” John Huffington, Friend of the retiree
Corruption of the ideals
More than an embarrassment to the Air Force, this is past ridiculous and shows a corruption of American ideals.
In a post at John Q.Public, the writer stated,
“…Chuck Roberson wanted Oscar Rodriguez at his retirement. He wanted him to participate. That should have been the end of the issue…
… the ceremony was over. This was an informal tribute designed by the honoree and his wingmen. Commanders too squeamish to bear witness should have excused themselves and taken no notice.
But even if they felt compelled to stay, they had no power to force a civilian invitee to sit down and shut up. He’s not subject to their authority.
But even if he were, his resistance to that authority could never legitimize the use of violence as a response to non-compliance…”
The Air Force Reserve statement claims that they honor the right to freedom of speech and freedom of “religious expression.” That’s a patent lie, right out of the box. In Mr. Rodriguez’ original text, there is one mention of “God”- a portion he never got to. So someone knew ahead of time what he was going to say and blatantly censored him.
The Daily Mail wrote that the officiating officer, Stephen Sila, remarked,
“Why do you think people are leaving (the Air Force) in droves? Because the guys in the trenches are subjected to nonstop stupidity from commanders who don’t deserve the rank, respect, or support of the people they’re in charge of…”