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Air Force general apologizes for wearing upside down ribbon rack at State of the Union

Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief, National Guard Bureau, addresses National Guard leader at the National Guard Association of the United States 140th General Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, Aug. 26, 2018. (Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill/U.S. Army National Guard)
February 08, 2019

Four-star Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel took to social media to apologize for a uniform gaffe committed while attending President Donald Trump’s annual address before Congress on Tuesday night.

“A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the State of the Union last night,” Lengyel, who serves as chief of the National Guard Bureau, wrote Wednesday on his official Facebook page. “If you look closely, you’ll see that the ribbons on my uniform jacket are upside down.”

The mistake, in which Lengyel wore his highest-precedence awards on the bottom row instead of the top, had already been spotted by eagle-eyed viewers after he was briefly shown during the televised address.

“I missed it … plain and simple,” he said in his Facebook post. “I hope this is a lesson for everyone who wears the uniform, and really for anyone. They put erasers on pencils for a reason. When you make a mistake or miss a detail, own it and move on.”

Comments on Facebook and a similar Twitter post were supportive of his admission.

“No one understands Air Force uniforms anyhow. I think you are safe,” wrote MMA fighter Tim Kennedy, a former Army Ranger.

Another commenter suggested Lengyel could use Maverick’s “because I was inverted” line from the 1986 blockbuster film “Top Gun” as an excuse.

“One thing is for sure … My ribbons will NEVER be upside down again,” Lengyel said on Facebook.

Lengyel is the 28th chief of the National Guard Bureau, a post he’s held since 2016. He was commissioned in 1981 through the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps and has more than 3,000 flight hours, mostly in the F-16 fighter.


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