Fired

Air Force Colonel Fired for Not Forcing Jab on Subordinates

Col. Katheryn Ellis has been fired for not issuing an order forcing her subordinates to be vaccinated. In August the Covid-19 vaccine was made mandatory for all American forces, including the Air Force, due to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granting full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote in a memo that, “to defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force.” He continued stating that vaccines “will protect you and your family. They will protect your unit, your ship, and your co-workers. And they will ensure we remain the most lethal and ready force in the world.”

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However, this is a statement Col. Ellis, the former commander of the 14th Medical Group, could not get behind.

What Led Up to being Fired For Not Forcing the Jab

Col. Katheryn Ellis was told by Col. Seth Graham, the commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing, that she must issue an order for two of her civilian employees to get the vaccine. Col. Ellis said no.

In a text message she wrote, “To clarify, my religious beliefs prevent me from taking the vaccine, actively promoting the vaccine, and from administering the vaccine to others myself (I’m a nurse).”

“These objections were included in my religious accommodation request.” She continued to clarify that her beliefs prevent her from taking the jab herself or actively promoting or administering it to others. But that she would not prevent the hamper efforts to ensure the vaccines are available to others.

Due to the order conflicting with her religious rights, Col. Ellis sought out the counsel of the base legal office. On their advice she worked with Col. Jeremy Bergin, vice wing commander, to have him issue the vaccination order on her behalf.

The two civilian employees happened to be already vaccinated, but Col. wanted the order issued anyway.

“At the end of the day, I ensured the orders were issued in a timely manner that didn’t compromise my integrity or my religious beliefs and rights,” Col. Ellis told the outlet Task and Purpose.

The Air Force Sees Things Differently

On Oct. 21 Col. Ellis, who first joined the Air Force in 1997 and has deployed to Afghanistan, was relieved of her duty. Ellis had only been in command of the 14th Medical Group for 4 months.

In a statement Rita Felton, a spokesperson for Columbus Air Force Base said that Col. Ellis lost her command because of a “loss of trust and confidence in her ability to lead and maintain the readiness of the men and women of the 14th Medical Group.”

On behalf of wing commander Col. Graham, when asked about what caused the loss of trust, Felton said: “We do not typically discuss the specifics of personnel actions outside of the chain of command.”

Ellis believes the reason is due to her not issuing the order herself. An order that would go against her religious beliefs.

“He said, ‘I think you know what this is about. When you can’t issue orders you have been given. I can’t have commanders who choose what orders they execute and what orders they don’t,’” Ellis said about a conversation she had with Col. Graham. “I tried to explain that ‘it’s part of the religious accommodation process.’ He said, ‘ok, well, that’s not going to work in this wing. So we need to move on.’”

When asked Col. Graham declined to comment.

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