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Fact Check-Story about 27 U.S. Air Force pilots resigning over COVID-19 vaccine mandate comes from false news website

Updating to include comment from Barksdale Air Force Base spokesperson, adjusting verdict to reflect this.

A baseless story claiming 27 U.S. Air Force pilots resigned following the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is making rounds online.

The source of the claims appears to be Real Raw News, a website that has a history of publishing misleading or false articles about well-known public figures, including stories about the U.S. military. Reuters has debunked several of their stories in the past ( here , here , here ).

Real Raw News openly states in its ‘About Us’ section ( here ) that “Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. This website contains humor, parody, and satire. We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice on legal counsel.”

Tweets sharing the story can be seen here , here .

The article viewable here ( here ) claims that 12 pilots from the 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis ( www.jble.af.mil/ ) resigned on Aug. 27. This claim has been shared in a popular video circulating online ( here , here ).

Joint Base Langley-Eustis confirmed to Reuters this claim was not true. “To date, no pilots from the 1st Fighter Wing have resigned their commission due to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate,” a Joint Base Langley-Eustis Public Affairs officer told Reuters via email on Sept. 10.

The article also claims 15 pilots of the 2nd Bomb Wing in Barksdale Louisiana ( www.barksdale.af.mil/ ) resigned. Reuters found no evidence to support this.

A spokesperson for Barksdale Air Force Base also told Reuters the story was “misinformation” and “completely false” and added that “no ultimatums were given and no pilots tendered their resignations.”

The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for U.S. service members on Aug. 25 ( here ).

On Sept. 3, the Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall required Airmen and Guardians to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 2 and Dec. 2, for active-duty personnel and Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel respectively ( here ).

VERDICT

False. There is no credible evidence to support a story about 27 U.S. Air Force pilots that resigned over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which originated from a website that has repeatedly shared false stories in the past. The two military bases mentioned in the article confirmed to Reuters the claims were false.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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