SMSgt who was removed from retirement ceremony gives USAF ultimatum

A retired Senior Master Sergeant who was forcibly removed during a flag-folding ceremony is giving the US Air Force an ultimatum: apologize and punish those responsible or face a federal civil-rights lawsuit.

SMSgt (R) Oscar Rodriguez -who was known for his moving delivery “flag-folding speech” during folding ceremonies is collaborating with lawyers  from the First Liberty Institute to challenge the US Air Force for their actions after they forcibly removed him from giving his speech at California-based Travis AFB on April 3rd, according to Breitbart (which is falsely claiming to be the first to release the video).

The organization claims that when 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sovitsky, learned that Rodriguez would give the traditional speech (mentioning God, as opposed to the secularized version that followed since 2005), he expressed his opposition and allegedly tried to block it. When Rodriguez was asked by retiring Master Sergeant Charles Roberson to press forward, he was forcibly removed by airmen who pulled him from the room as he shouted his speech at the top of his lungs. The organization noted these events in their demand letter.

“It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life,” said Rodriguez, who was kicked off the base shortly after. “To have the Air Force assault me and drag me out of a retirement ceremony simply because my speech included the word ‘God’ is something I never expected from our military.”

The First Liberty Institute sent the demand letter on Sunday, demanding that the US Air Force and Travis AFB commander issue a formal written apology, admit that they violated his civil rights, allow him back on the base and take action against those involved.

“Mr. Rodriguez has a constitutional right to free speech and religious expression, even on a military base,” added Mike Berry, First Liberty’s military affairs director. “The military broke the law and abused its power. We expect the Air Force to hold those responsible accountable, and allow Mr. Rodriguez to continue honoring the flag and other veterans who have sacrificed for our country.”

First Liberty has set up a website where all legal documents can be accessed.

All of the John Q. Public reports about his incident can be accessed here.

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