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AF Will Take Action Over POW/MIA Emblem Photo

Airman kissing POW/MIA emblem

WASHINGTON — The Air Force is “disappointed” in the airman who appeared in a photo that is being circulated of her posing with her tongue in the mouth of the prisoner of war depicted on the iconic black-and-white POW/MIA emblem.

“We do not yet have all details behind the photo, but it certainly is a concern; it’s a concern any time someone shows disrespect for prisoners of war and those missing in action. They deserve our utmost respect and we must always remember their sacrifice and the legacy they’ve left for us as men and women serving our nation.

“I want to make it clear that this is not a reflection of Airmen who wear this uniform; it is a case of poor judgment of one Airman ... to say we are disappointed would be an understatement. We are gathering all the details and will take appropriate action at the appropriate level. Our Airmen fully understand the significance of the POW/MIA flag and the sacrifice of the men and women it honors,” Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody said in a statement.

Second Lt. Rachelle Smith, a spokeswoman for Fairchild Air Force Base, told Stars and Stripes that the airman in the photo is Staff Sgt. Cherish Byers. She is with the 92nd Security Forces Squadron stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Byers was a senior airman when the photo was taken.

An investigation into the incident was initiated Friday morning, Smith said.

Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, was not amused by the photo.

“There is nothing funny about [being] disrespectful and crude.”

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