A retired Air Force sergeant who was physically removed from a military retirement ceremony two years ago is suing the Air Force. Senior Master Sergeant Oscar
Rodriguez believes he was taken out of the ceremony because he mentioned "God" in a speech.
Rodriguez had been invited to speak at an April 3, 2016 retirement ceremony by a fellow master sergeant from the 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. As he began his speech, service members at Travis Air Force Base in California forcibly removed him from the ceremony.
Rodriguez filed suit against the U.S. Air Force Monday, demanding an apology and admission of wrongdoing. He believes his First Amendment rights were violated.
The Air Force Inspector General concluded Rodriguez was kicked out of the ceremony because he didn't follow a commander's order not to participate in the event.
The IG report stated Rodriguez was "not removed from the ceremony because he intended to use a script with religious content. Evidence indicated that Mr. Rodriguez was removed by members of the squadron because he attempted to participate in the ceremony even though his participation had been disapproved by the hosting squadron commander."
One witness told the Inspector General, "We had a chaplain there. …It has nothing to do with the religion, sir."
In 2016, Mike Berry, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, told CBN News the forcible removal of Rodriguez should not have been allowed, due to the retirement ceremony being considered a private event. The contents of the speech are under the discretion of the person who is retiring.
Master Sergeant Chuck Roberson, who was being honored at the ceremony, said he wanted Rodriguez to give the speech honoring God: "I wanted the ceremony to reflect the American values I spent my career defending – respect for God, family, and country. I couldn't believe what happened. I still can't believe it."
"All I want now is for the Air Force to apologize for ruining this once in a lifetime moment, but they refuse to do so."