From the time he was a child, USAF pilot Lt. John Bowes has dreamt of flying and protecting his nation. For now, the COVID vaccine mandates forced upon our military have derailed those dreams.
Bowes submitted a request for a religious accommodation last year to the US military to excuse him from taking the experimental COVID vaccine, a request that was later denied.
Lt. Bowes has been grounded since the denial last September.
Approximately, 700 military pilots refused the COVID experimental vaccine on moral grounds. Many of these pilots are grounded.
This is despite the fact that the CDC admits that there is no significant difference in COVID transmission between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
The Gateway Pundit recently shared a troubling report of vaccine injuries that have occurred in the US Military.
Lt. Bowes joined The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft to share his story.
Lt. John Bowes emphasized that these thoughts and opinions are his own and do not represent the United States Air Force or the Department of Defense.
Here is a transcript from Wednesday’s discussion with Lt. John Bowes.
Jim Hoft: All right, thank you for that intro video. Lieutenant John Bowes it’s great to have you with us today. I’ve read some of your story. I believe I’ve seen you on television at least once, and I’m very eager to hear more about how your life has been the past few months, the past year and a half, and I think our audience will too. So thanks for coming on with us.
Lt. Bowes: Well, thank you for having me, sir. And I’d really like to just start off by saying that. Of course. These thoughts and opinions on my own. And I don’t represent the Department of Defense or the United States Air Force. But it certainly has been an interesting year. And I’m excited to kind of tell the story and bring awareness to exactly what’s going on in the military in terms of these vaccine mandates and raise awareness into the question of why are we doing this. Especially in light of the CDC guidance. Our national security and our goals as a military. Which it doesn’t seem to mesh with these vaccine mandates.
Jim Hoft: Absolutely. And maybe we could start off with you could tell us a little bit about your history. You’ve been a pilot in training for a while with the US. Air Force, I believe. Obviously, you had some issues when COVID popped up. Along with what I’m reading and you’ve spoken about this, 700 other pilots also stood up against some of these mandates that they were pushing on the military. So maybe you could tell us a little bit about your story of what’s happened in the past couple of years.
Lt. Bowes: So I spent my entire life desiring to be a fighter pilot. I grew up in a family of two Air Force pilots. My father was a fighter pilot. My mother was an instructor pilot. So I developed a passion for military aviation from an extremely young age, as young as I can remember, I’ve watched jets take off and listen to the sound of freedom and wanted to be a part of that. And so I really devoted my entire life to becoming a fighter pilot. And thankfully, I was successful in that. I worked extremely hard. I went to the United States Air Force Academy, where I was a distinguished graduate, and then went to Euronato Joint Jet Pilot Training to get my wings, where it’s a NATO elite pilot training organization. And then from there, I was selected to fly the F-16. And just as I was beginning training in the F 16 is when I was removed from flying training because I filed for a religious accommodation to the COVID Vaccine. So that happened in September of 2021, and since then, I’m still grounded. I have not flown since then. It’s been well over a year since I’ve flown.
And it’s unfortunate because I could be a productive member of the Air Force flying right now and contributing to the mission, and I’m not. And I want to I’m not standing up for this vaccine because of I want to stick it to the man. And none of these service members are we’re not here for politics or to be obstinate. We’re simply here to just ask the question of why can’t we have our religious freedoms, our medical concerns, and our constitutional freedoms respected in the military, which is exactly what we’re defending and supporting every day.
Jim Hoft: Yes. It’s really unbelievable what you just said. You submitted an exemption on religious reasons, and in response, you were punished. It’s really hard to believe that that’s happening. But it actually happened to you.
Lt. Bowes: Yes, and it’s happened to just hundreds more. 700 pilots is probably a low number. There’s probably a lot more out there. I discover more of them every single day. And so that’s a major issue for our national security, and we can get into that in a little bit. But you’re exactly right. It’s one thing to say either get the vaccine or file for religious accommodation, that’s totally okay, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But to also say in the same breath that if you file for religious accommodation that you’ll be removed from training and you’ll be grounded from flying, that’s punitive. And that’s against the regulations of our military and contrary to our Constitution, our constitutional rights in the First Amendment. So it’s something that I don’t understand, and I hope military leaders become aware of the fact that this is a major issue for our military. And I don’t think it looks very good for our military to trample constitutional rights because you don’t give those up when you join the military.
Jim Hoft: Absolutely. And obviously this is the anniversary, the one year anniversary this week of the fall of Afghanistan, when the Taliban stormed into Kabul and took over the presidential palace. And the next day the Taliban leaders came in and declared a new terrorist state. So it’s interesting then that they would be grounding so many pilots when it appears that this would be a time where we really need our best to be serving for the US military. So it’s kind of hard to figure all this out. But that’s your experience.
Lt. Bowes: Yes, absolutely. And let’s dig into that for a second and talk about just pilots I think are a good example of the national security issue that we face. Right now we’re looking at a shortage of about 1900 pilots in the Air Force alone. And in 2017, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force said a shortage of 1500 pilots was a crisis, and we’ve grown that number by 400 now. And so to say that we are in a pilot crisis in terms of retention and manning and then to also discharge these pilots doesn’t seem to work out with our national security goals, especially in a time where intentions with Russia and China are rising almost daily. I just ask the question, why are we doing that? You can make the argument that in 2020, perhaps when we didn’t know much about COVID, that this could be a more serious issue. We need to look into it further. But the CDC just released guidance that said that vaccinated and unvaccinated should be treated the same. So what does it matter at this point? Why can’t we get back to work? Why can’t we serve our country, which is what we signed up to do?
I think that’s really important. There are so many other examples. If you look at Vance Air Force Base is a good example. It’s one of the four bases in the Air Force that train pilots. They have 14 instructor pilots right now that are grounded. They can’t fly, they can’t train, they’re just simply doing ground duties. But they interact with everybody on a personal basis every day. They’re in close contact, they still do their jobs, they still come into work. Why can’t they fly when they’re in a cockpit and at less risk of having close contact with individuals. And on top of that, vaccinated pilots are picking up the slack for them and they’re not able to pick up all that slack. 14 pilots is a lot of pilots for a squadron or an organization. And so we’re increasing our risk of mishaps because pilots are being overflowed that are vaccinated. We’re reducing morale and we’re not outputting the pilots we desperately need in order to fill this void of 1900 pilots in the Air Force alone. I think that’s a national security crisis, and I think that’s something that we need to take a good look at.
Jim Hoft: Yes, absolutely. That’s just stunning. So what has happened in the past several months and we’ve seen that the CDC has changed a bunch of the rules. They’ve come out with all these statements like you just mentioned, where the vaccinated and unvaccinated you’re not supposed to discriminate against at this point. So do you have an attorney talking to the military about this? I mean, have they approached you since these new rules came out from the CDC or if they still stuck to their old policies? Even though the CDC has come out with new guidelines?
Lt. Bowes: I don’t have any concrete changes now. I think pretty much across the military, from what I’ve observed, is everything is the same and people are still required. Unvaccinated individuals are still required to test in some places, even though vaccinated individuals are not. Masking is still in effect in some places. And hopefully, I’ll get to fly soon. And I would like to absolutely return to training and keep serving because despite all this, I still want to serve my country and I still want to exist in my passion, which is flying. And I’m okay with that. But as of right now, I’m just hoping and praying that something changes. But to answer your question, no, I have not seen any significant changes to the way the DoD is handling the situation.
Jim Hoft: And you even just mentioned that they’re having the unvaccinated still test for the COVID virus, when we also know from the CDC now that even if you are vaccinated, you can still carry the disease, you can still catch the disease, you can still infect others. So that really doesn’t make any sense. But that’s been the policy now for what, a year? They haven’t changed anything. How does that work out?
Lt. Bowes: You know, I don’t know. Thankfully, in the Air Force and the Navy, at least, we have judicial relief in the form of a preliminary injunction while the courts litigate. But in the Army, in the Marine Corps, they’re still proceeding with discharge for people. So we’re still standing to lose a lot. And the big picture numbers are still pretty shocking. As of May of this year, there are more than 98,000 service members who remain unvaccinated, and another 200,000+ who are only partially vaccinated, which puts the number at around 300,000 total service members who are not in compliance with the vaccine mandate. We can’t stand to lose those people. We can barely afford to lose a couple of hundred pilots, let alone hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated service members. And they’re still proceeding with discharge. And so I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know why the policy hasn’t changed. And I’m not here to disparage my chain of command or leadership or members of Congress. But what I am here to say is to encourage people to take a closer look at this, look at the numbers, and maybe stand up and speak out, because we’re missing that desperately.
And there’s only so much we can do as active duty service members, especially myself as a low-grade officer. We need general officers talking about this and affecting some change. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with speaking up and saying that this might not be the best idea. I don’t think that’s disobeying orders or being unfaithful to the military. It’s just simply doing what we’re expected to do, which is stand up for our oath to the Constitution of the United States.
Please watch the full interview on Rumble to hear the rest of his story and how you can help.