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Military Connection: Racist Comment Ends Air Force General’s Career

Maj. Gen. Michael Keltz, left, pins the Legion of Merit medal on Col. Lance Bunch, outgoing commander of the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015 during a change of command ceremony. The incoming commander is Col. Gregory Keeton. (AP Photo/Wichita Falls Times Record News, Torin Halsey)

By Debbie Gregory.

A racially charged comment forced Maj. Gen. Michael Keltz to resign last week. The four words that derailed his career? “Drunker than 10,000 Indians.”

Keltz, the former commander of 19th Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, resigned from his job and announced he would retire, saying in a written statement that he “inadvertently made an unfortunate comment.”

While serving as the convening authority at a company-grade officer’s Article 15 hearing on April 9th , Keltz said the accused and another officer looked “drunker than 10,000 Indians,” referring to a photograph of the two officers. Blogger and former airman Tony Carr wrote on his John Q. Public blog that Keltz, during the hearing to determine whether the officer’s punishment was fair, had a photo of the officer and a friend standing together at a unit event. While they had both been drinking, Keltz observed that they appeared to be “drunker than 10,000 Indians.”

“The audience, which apparently included members of Native American descent, was taken aback,” Carr wrote in the blog. ”Keltz reportedly continued the commentary a little longer, at one point saying the officer looked ‘drunker than 10,000 sailors.’”

Carr said in his blog that several sources reached out to his site “with first-hand accounts of the incident.”

Maj. Toni Whaley, a spokeswoman for AETC, the parent unit to 19th Air Force, confirmed Keltz made the comment about the photograph.

Because of Keltz’s remark, the accused officer’s Article 15 was terminated, his punishment was voided, and no decision was made at the hearing, Whaley said.

“I inadvertently made an unfortunate comment, I own it, and I hold myself accountable to the same high standards my subordinate commanders are held to,” Keltz said. “As a result, I have tendered my resignation from command and requested to retire from service.

Keltz retires after serving 34 years in the Air Force.

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Military Connection: Racist Comment Ends Air Force General’s Career: By Debbie Gregory