An Air Force drill sergeant and former Iowa National Guard member who posed nude for Playboy magazine has been removed from active duty, she said Wednesday. Whether that amounts to an honorable discharge, as Michelle Manhart also says, is unclear.
Manhart, who appeared in a six-page spread in Playboy's February issue, said she got word Friday that she was removed from "extended active duty" and was also told that she was demoted in rank from staff sergeant to senior airman.
"I'm disappointed in our system," Manhart told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "They went too far with it."
Manhart said that being removed from duty meant that she reverted to her Air National Guard status and that she submitted a "resignation" to the Guard, which she said is pending. Manhart was a member of the Iowa Air National Guard before going on extended active duty.
Manhart offered The AP a copy of a signed "request and authorization for separation" form that indicates her "character of service" was "honorable." It is not clear whether the form is an official discharge order.
Oscar Balladares, a spokesman for Lackland Air Force Base, confirmed that Manhart was removed from extended active duty on Friday, but he said Lackland did not discharge her.
"She was not discharged, but she was removed from active duty status and thus reverted to National Guard status," Balladares said. "It is not up to the Air Force — it is not our jurisdiction to discharge her."
Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood, a spokesman for the Iowa National Guard, said, "At this point we don't have any separation documents regarding Senior Airman Manhart and until we receive documentation of her separation from the Air Force, at this point we don't have her on duty status in the Iowa National Guard."
Appeared in uniform
Manhart, a 30-year-old mother of two, said the military's action against her hinged on the fact that she was pictured in the magazine wearing her uniform.
She was photographed in uniform yelling and holding weapons under the headline "Tough Love." The following pages showed her partially clothed wearing dog tags while working out, as well as completely nude. After the pictorial hit newsstands in January, Manhart was relieved of her duties pending an investigation.
Manhart said she was given a letter of reprimand in late January, told not to talk to the media and that an "unfavorable information file" was established on her. Her husband is also in the military.
Balladares said he could not comment on any of the "administrative actions" taken against her because of privacy concerns. He said, though, that she was not prohibited from talking to the media.
Manhart said she is looking forward to pursuing a modeling and entertainment career.
"My family is going to stay here, but I do have plans to pursue anything that comes my way, whether it be in L.A. or New York or Hollywood," she said. "As far as moving on in my life, I'm happy. I hope this works out for my family and me."
Playboy spokeswoman Theresa Hennessey said Playboy had no comment on Manhart's case.