Don’t disrespect fallen troops.
That’s the message to funeral honor guard members in two photos that have sparked outrage and shock after they were posted to social media.
One image shows a group of soldiers — some grinning, some striking comic poses — beside a casket draped in the American flag. The accompanying caption said, “WE put the FUN in funeral your fearless honor guard from various states.”
The other, posted on Instagram, is a selfie of a woman who appears to be in an Honor Guard accompanies a caption that reads: “It’s so damn cold out...WHY have a funeral outside! Somebody’s getting a jacked up flag...”
The photos are suspected to have originated from the Wisconsin National Guard, which posted on its Facebook page Feb. 17 that an investigation was underway.
“It has come to the attention of the Wisconsin National Guard that a soldier may have posted inappropriate pictures and comments regarding their duties as a member of a Funeral Honor Guard. We are currently looking into the matter. Thank you,” the message states.
Less than 24 hours later, the Wisconsin National Guard released a satement. Read here
Troops took to Facebook to rail against the two shots.
“As the [noncommissioned officer in charge] for the honor guard of my unit on the active duty side, I am completely disgusted to see this crap,” said Miguel Riley, a soldier from Fort Riley, Kansas, in a Facebook comment about the casket photo.
Others called for stern punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for the soldiers and their superiors.
“I am a Gold Star Mother, and this is a disgrace to the fallen and their families,” said Judy Vincent in another comment. “All of them need to be brought up on charges, along with who-ever is in charge of them. This shows nothing but poor leadership, and a total disrespect for the uniform they wear.”
WISN 12 News reports the matter stems from a private Instagram account, since deleted. The woman in the selfie told the channel she has been receiving death threats after they went viral. Army Times has attempted to contact the woman via email, but has not yet received a response.
The state Guard’s Maj. Paul Rickert confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that at least one of the soldiers posing by the casket is a member of the Wisconsin Guard.
“We take the responsibility given to members with respect to fallen soldiers very seriously and expect all soldiers assigned to (the unit) to perform their duties with honor and respect,” Rickert told the newspaper.
The Guard initially left the photo online so that people could vent their anger over it, Rickert reportedly said. It no longer appears on the Facebook page, but people continued to comment on the announcement of the investigation.
“Never mess with pissed off vets,” said Emily Judith, of Clemson, S.C., in a Facebook comment.
This is the second incident in less than a week in which inappropriate photos of service members has circulated via social medial. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cherish Byers is the subject of an investigation, the Air Force announced Friday, after a three-year-old photo of her tongue-kissing a Prisoner of War-Missing in Action symbol went viral.