Gov. Stitt’s new National Guard leader battles Pentagon over vaccine mandate

by Erika Stone, Senior Staff Writer
oklahoma national guard

Major General Mike Thompson, a heavily decorated military man who led the Oklahoma National Guard since 2017, has been unceremoniously relieved of his position. On November 10, the man who helped lead the Oklahoma National Guard’s Covid-19 pandemic response was removed from duty — and still doesn’t know exactly why.

Major General Thompson was replaced by Brigadier General Thomas Mancino, who has served since 2019 in the role of assistant adjutant general. Governor Stitt made the announcement about Major General Thompson’s replacement on Wednesday November 12, one day after the decorated military man was a keynote speaker at a Veteran’s Day event in Oklahoma. 

When asked for an explanation regarding his dismissal, Major General Thompson was evasive, encouraging reporters to ask Governor Stitt about his reasons. However, many blame Major General Thompson’s support for a mandated Covid-19 vaccine — a position that Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt opposes. 

national guard

Gen. Mike Thompson speaks to reporters following a Tweet from Governor Stitt removing him as leader of the Oklahoma National Guard (KOCO)

Governor opposes vaccine mandates

Governor Stitt is not only against a vaccine mandate, he also insists that Oklahoma schools do not need mask mandates and will not even consider a statewide lockdown, despite rising Covid19 cases across the state. Many public health officials have warned that the winter will likely cause a Covid19 surge again, as families gather for the holidays and the cold weather drives people inside. 

Meanwhile, Major General Thompson learned that he had been replaced via Twitter, where Governor Stitt posted a message, thanking Major General Thompson for his contributions to the state’s military presence. “I appreciate General Thompson’s years of faithful service to our state and wish him well in his next chapter,” tweeted Governor Stitt.

KOCO News 5 reached out to the Governor’s office to inquire about why the decorated military official was released from duty. While the Governor’s office stated that the plan to replace Major General Thompson had been in the works for some time, an official reason was not stated. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Stitt’s new Adjunct General of the Oklahoma National Guard, Thomas Mancino, has come out strongly against the federal government’s vaccine mandate for service-members. While his predecessor Mike Thompson was a vocal supporter of vaccines, Gov. Stitt’s new pick has engaged in a stand-off with the Pentagon over vaccinating soldiers.

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Pentagon officials recently said that failure to comply with vaccine mandates could “jeopardize” the military readiness of the nation’s defense forces. The Pentagon warned of possible disciplinary action. So far, no other states have joined Oklahoma’s lead.

In addition to leading the Oklahoma National Guard from 2017-2021, Gen. Mike Thompson also apologized to survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre this summer over the Guard’s role in the destruction 100 years ago.

Van Hughes Ellis

Van Hughes Ellis, a living survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and World War II Veteran receives honors from Adj. Gen. of the Oklahoma National Guard Mike Thompson. (Chris Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

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