Honor guard mugging near empty casket sparks furor

 By M.L. Johnson

Associated Press
 
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Wisconsin National Guard announced Tuesday that it had suspended a member from honor guard duties after she apparently posted to social media a photograph of soldiers mugging around an empty, flag-draped casket.
 
The group photograph 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 photograph 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 photograph was posted from an account belonging to Spc. Terry Harrison, of the Madison, Wis.-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, according to the National Guard. That account has since been closed, but others have reposted the picture and Harrison’s comments on multiple social media sites.

Judy Vincent, of Poteau, Okla., whose son died in Iraq in 2004, said the picture “was like somebody slapped me in the face.” Vincent was among the more than 900 people to post comments on the Wisconsin National Guard’s Facebook page, most of them asking for Harrison and the other soldiers to be disciplined.

Harrison 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.

 

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