Racist “Drunker Than 10,000 Indians” Remark Ended General’s Career

Former Maj. Gen. Michael Keltz

Former Maj. Gen. Michael Keltz

SAN ANTONIO – A racially charged comment forced Maj. Gen. Michael Keltz to resign two weeks, according to Air Education and Training Command.

While serving as the convening authority at a company-grade officer’s Article 15 hearing April 9, Keltz said the accused and another officer looked “drunker than 10,000 Indians” while referring to a photograph of the two officers.

Blogger and former airman Tony Carr first reported Keltz’s comment on his John Q. Public blog, and AETC spokeswoman Maj. Toni Whaley confirmed the statement was made in regard to a photograph of the two officers.

As the convening authority in the Article 15 hearing, which was to determine whether the accused officer’s nonjudicial punishment for an unspecified offense was too harsh, Keltz essentially served as both judge and jury.

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. That officer’s case has now been sent back to his commander, who will look at the facts and decide what disciplinary action — if any — is appropriate, Whaley said. If the commander does decide to impose another punishment, and if the accused officer again feels it is too harsh, the officer could request another hearing.

Whaley said that if Keltz’s ruling in the case stood, it is possible that his remarks could later be used as grounds for overturning his decision. She did not know if the officer’s defense attorney objected to Keltz’s comments.

AETC announced the resignation of Keltz, who was commander of the 19th Air Force, on April 30 and attributed it to an “inappropriate comment” in a public forum. Whaley at that time confirmed to Air Force Times that Keltz’s comment had to do with excessive consumption of alcohol, but would not repeat what he said.

Carr said on his blog that multiple sources reached out to him with first-hand accounts of Keltz’s comments.

In a statement provided by Whaley last week, Keltz took responsibility for his statement.

“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. [AETC Commander] Gen. [Robin] Rand has graciously accepted that request.”

Keltz will retire after serving 34 years in the Air Force.

Editor’ Note: This article first appeared in The Air Force Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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