[Ed. – We had this original story at the time, in April 2016. A retiring NCO wanted a friend to participate in his ceremony and read the traditional words of the flag-folding narrative, which invoke “God.” The local commanding officer apparently objected, and had the Master Sergeant’s NCO friend — the man now bringing suit — physically removed from the ceremony when he tried to perform the ritual. Now the Air Force — under new management — is affirming that airmen have the option of using the words that invoke God, if they want to.
[The “official” wording was changed in 2006 to be God-free. Episodes like this one, which should never have marred the Master Sergeant’s lasting memory of his own retirement ceremony, are a reminder of the danger of intolerantly trying to eliminate references to God from everything sponsored by the government. Such a standard is not, in fact, what 99.9% of Americans in uniform believe they are fighting for.]
A retired Air Force sergeant who was forcibly removed two years ago from a military retirement ceremony as he recited a traditional passage honoring the flag filed a lawsuit Monday, claiming he was ousted for mentioning the word “God.”
Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez was invited to speak at an April 3, 2016 ceremony by an outgoing fellow master sergeant from the 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Video of the event showed Rodriguez being physically removed by service members at Travis Air Force Base in California as he was delivering a flag-folding speech.
On Monday, two years after the incident, Rodriguez sued the U.S. Air Force, demanding an apology and admission of wrongdoing. In an interview with Fox News, he claimed his First Amendment rights were violated.