It’s unclear why Master Sgt. Robin Brown, a public affairs officer with the Tennessee Air National Guard, recited her oath of re-enlistment last week using a dinosaur puppet.
Or why the colonel conducting the ceremony allowed her to do so, stifling his laughter as the puppet mouthed the oath.
But the two have been let go from the Guard after a video of the incident went viral, garnering about 2.4 million views on Facebook by Wednesday and upsetting many in the military community who felt Brown and the colonel’s actions were disrespectful. Brown has been removed from her full-time job with the Tennessee Joint Public Affairs Office and the yet-to-be-identified colonel has been demoted and immediately retired, according to Army Maj. Gen. Terry Haston, the adjutant general for the Tennessee National Guard.
The senior noncommissioned officer who videotaped the oath recital has been removed from his job as unit first sergeant but will remain in the Guard, Haston said in a statement Wednesday on Facebook.
“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 actions of these three individuals in no way represent the professionalism, honor, and courage of the 14,000 Soldiers and [Airmen] in the Tennessee National Guard,” he added.
Claims have circulated online that the ceremony was not an official reenlistment and that the video was made for Brown’s children to watch. But William Jones, a spokesman for the joint public affairs office for the Tennessee National Guard, told The Post that it was an official ceremony. He said he did not know why Brown used the puppet.
“This was not typical [behavior] for a re-enlistment ceremony by any means,” Jones said. “And children were not present when the ceremony took place.”
“It was very unusual,” he added.
The Post was unable to reach Brown on Wednesday.
Many on social media have attacked the colonel not only for allowing the ceremony to proceed with the puppet, but for not raising his right hand, as well as not having the oath memorized.
In a Facebook statement Monday, the Air National Guard’s national director, Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, criticized the airmen’s behavior.
“I’m equally shocked and dismayed by this event that mocks such a cherished and honorable occasion. The oath of office or enlistment not only signifies our commitment to our nation, but pays respect to our fellow service members and to those who came before us,” he wrote.
He added: “This action goes against our very foundation.”