- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2014

A U.S. Army Band member said the Army threw him from its ranks because he drove a car with anti-Obama bumper stickers, read books by conservative radio host Sean Hannity and served sandwiches from the Christian-based Chick-fil-A chain at his party.

Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a 25-year veteran of the military and a soloist in the U.S. Army Band Chorus, filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging he was pushed into retirement because of his conservative and open religious beliefs, Fox News reported.

Master Sgt. Sommers’ attorney, John Wells, called him a “true hero” who was targeted by higher-ups because he took a strong stand for his religious believes. Mr. Wells said his client came under especial fire from superiors after he made known his traditional marriage views.

“Master Sgt. Sommers did nothing to interfere with good order and discipline,” Mr. Wells said, Fox News reported. “He was the perfect soldier.”

Master Sgt. Sommers was based at Fort Myer outside of Washington, D.C., and was previously awarded an Army commendation medal. He was also the soloist at the funeral of former first lady Betty Ford.

The lawsuit seeks to return Master Sgt. Sommers to his soloist role, with full pay and benefits. A spokesman for the Army declined to comment, Fox News reported.

Master Sgt. Sommers first came under fire for bumper stickers on his car that read, “NOBAMA” and “The Road to Bankruptcy is Paved with [expletive]-Fault,” accompanied by a picture of a donkey. He was told by superiors to remove the stickers, Fox News reported.

Master Sgt. Sommers was also criticized for reading books written by conservatives like Sean Hannity, David Limbaugh and Mark Levin, while wearing his military uniform. At one point, Master Sgt. Sommers said he was backstage at a scheduled performance, in uniform, reading “The Great Destroyer” by Mr. Limbaugh, when a superior officer told him he was causing “unit disruption” and to put the book away, Fox News reported, citing the suit.

In 2012, he again came under fire for serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party in honor of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Fox News reported. On July 31, the Army’s Quality Management Panel ordered him to be discharged from the military. Instead, he was allowed to retire — and the next day, he filed the lawsuit, Fox News said.

“Just because someone joins the military, they do not give up their rights as a citizen,” Mr. Wells said.