A member of the Wisconsin National Guard was suspended from honor guard duties after she apparently posted to social media a photograph of soldiers mugging around an empty, flag-draped casket.
The picture, taken at a National Guard training facility in Arkansas, sparked a furor on Facebook, in military chat rooms and other social media, where people saw it as disrespectful of veterans and those killed in action. The National Guard said it was taking steps to protect the soldier who posted the photograph after she received death threats.
The image, originally posted on Instagram, shows about a dozen soldiers clowning around a casket draped in a flag. Several hug playfully. One flashes a peace sign. Another has his back turned and is pointing off in the distance.
The caption reads: “We put the FUN in funeral – your fearless honor guard from various states.”
The photo was posted from an account belonging to Spc. Terry Harrison, of the Madison, Wisconsin-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, according to the National Guard.
That account has since been closed, but others have reposted the picture and Terry Harrison’s comments on multiple social media sites.
Judy Vincent, of Poteau, Oklahoma, said she saw the picture when a friend reposted it on Facebook.
“It was like somebody slapped me in the face. I’ve never in my life seen such disrespect for the fallen or the families,” said Judy Vincent, whose son died in Iraq in 2004.
Terry Harrison, a full-time member of the National Guard, has been suspended from Wisconsin’s honor guard and assigned to other duties while an investigation is ongoing, said Maj. Paul Rickert, the Wisconsin National Guard’s director of public affairs.
Wisconsin officials also have notified the National Guard Bureau because the other soldiers in the photograph were from other units, Paul Rickert said