Soldier Suspended for Disrespectful Casket Photos

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The Wisconsin National Guard is investigating one of its soldiers for allegedly posting "inappropriate" photos on Facebook while on funeral detail -- one of which shows soldiers clowning around a flag-draped casket.

The photos appeared on a social media site that belonged to Spc. Terry Harrison - a member of 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, based in Madison, Wis., according to a Wisconsin National Guard press release posted on its Facebook page.

The photo shows a group of uniformed soldiers, "posing disrespectfully around a flag-draped training casket," the release states. The caption below the photo reads: "We put the FUN in funeral."

That photo was taken at the Professional Education Center, a National Guard training facility in North Little Rock, Ark.

Another photo shows the face of a uniformed female soldier with a caption below that reads: "It's so damned cold out … WHY have a funeral outside?! Somebody's getting a jacked up flag."

Harrison has been indefinitely suspended from the funeral honors detail pending an investigation into the matter, according to the release.

"We expect all of our soldiers and airmen to live by a core set of values, in word and deed," said Maj. Gen. Donald P. Dunbar, the Wisconsin adjutant general, who ordered the investigation into the matter. "I was appalled by the offensive photos and comments that appeared on this soldier's social media site regarding her duties as a funeral honor guard member."

The Wisconsin National Guard became aware of controversial incident Feb. 17 and posted the following statement on the command's Facebook page.

"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."

While the photos and comments do not portray any misconduct during the performance of actual military funeral honors, Maj. Paul Rickert, spokesman for the Wisconsin National Guard, said he understands that their content is upsetting to many.

So far, about 1,000 comments have been posted on the command's Facebook page, expressing outrage and disgust over the photos and comments.

"A military funeral is the final show of respect for our veterans and their families, and we take that solemn duty very seriously," Rickert said. "The very name 'military funeral honors' underscores the importance we ascribe - both as the military and society at large - to such solemn occasions. These photos and comments do not appear to align with those values."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at Matthew.Cox@monster.com.

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