Marine pilot denied religious exemption warns mandate ‘detriment to national defense’ in troubling interview

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Amid all the saber-rattling over Ukraine, which now includes President Joe Biden placing roughly 8,500 U.S. troops on “heightened alert” amid rising fears of a possible Russian invasion, citing a commitment to our “national interests,” among other things, the Pentagon is pushing ahead with its heavy-handed vaccine mandate.

With more than 200 U.S. Marines being booted out of the Corps and thousands more facing the same fate for refusing to get vaccinated, Fox News host Tucker Carlson featured an active-duty Marine fighter pilot who filed an unsuccessful religious exemption to the mandate which is now on appeal — Carlson stressed that the U.S. military has issued just two religious exemptions total.

Lt. Col. Scott Duncan, who has flown over 300 combat missions, including 200 carrier landings, will be discharged from the Marine Corps if his appeal is denied.

Hundreds of experienced fighter pilots may be lost over the vaccine mandate, Carlson noted, asking who “is prioritizing a vaccine over that kind of experience defending the country.”

“We do believe that yes, we have a reasonable argument,” Duncan said. “We’ve asked our leadership immediately, as well as our congressional leadership, to inquire as to the cost-benefit analysis of losing several hundred very qualified aviators — the average time engraved for those aviators is 14 years — and also to just consider the second and third-order effects and consequences of what they have to offer.”

“I am not unique in my situation,” he continued. “There are many incredibly qualified individuals with a tremendous amount of experience, and we believe that that can be a detriment to national defense in the event we separate that many aviators.”

Carlson suggested that these military pilots do what they do for “noble reasons,” pointing out that they could make a lot more money flying a corporate jet or for the airlines, before asking Duncan about his religious exemption and the problems he has with the vaccine.

“The problems we had personally with the vaccine, we understand there’s reasonable disagreeing. We do disagree with the pedigree and the technology maturation over time. That’s one issue,” Duncan said. “The other is just a conviction by the Holy Spirit and I believe we are led in that fashion. We do not have any peace about the vaccine itself we also believe we have an inherent right to our own body. We believe that is our right, it is conferred with us from the Maker and Creator and that is the foundation of the Constitution which we defend.”

“So those are all the bases primarily of the religious accommodation that has been both requested, denied, and then subsequently appealed,” he added.

“I cannot resist asking you, you’ve flown over 300 combat missions, I assume you thought when you flying those and risking your life and landing on carriers at night — the most dangerous thing any human being can do — that you were defending the U.S. Constitution, in other words, your right to have your own religious views. Didn’t you think that?”

“Yes, sir. We absolutely believe everything we’ve done up to date in honorable service, as well as what we’re doing now, is consistent with those views,” he responded. “That view is just not shared by some leadership within the Department of Defense and so we believe this is a very reasonable and above reproach way to express our concerns.”

In closing out the segment, Carlson took note of how “restrained and gentlemanly” the fighter pilot was to say “underneath it all is one of the sadder stories ever.”

Tom Tillison


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