Two photos posted on Instagram by a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard have caused outrage as critics assailed the unidentified guard member for apparently making fun of funerals for fallen soldiers.
The photos, posted by an unnamed member of the Wisconsin's Funeral Honor Guard, shows various members of the troop posing – most smiling and others in comical positions – around an empty, American-flag draped coffin.
The photo is accompanied by a caption that reads: "We put the FUN in funeral your fearless honor guard from various states."
The picture quickly went viral and commentators flooded the Wisconsin National Guard’s Facebook page with angry messages.
“Not only do you need to deal with the disrespectful honor guard member but also her supervisor that defended her actions!” wrote Linda Gonzalez, who commented on the National Guard’s Facebook page. “Appalling all around! I currently serve and to think that one day I could be buried by this disrespectful unit terrifies me!!!”
Army public affairs officer Maj. Paul D. Rickert acknowledged the incident and said that it is launching an investigation into the matter, but would not release the name of the female officer who posted the photo to protect her from death threats.
“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,” a statement on the Wisconsin National Guard’s Facebook page said “We are currently looking into the matter.”
Another photo causing a stir on the web shows the woman in question with a folded flag in the background with the caption, "It's so damn cold out. Why have a funeral outside? Somebody's getting a jacked up flag."
Rickert said that while no charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice have yet to be filed, he confirmed that the woman who posted the photo was a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard who recently took training to become a member of the Funeral Honor Guard unit. However, he would not confirm if the other are actual Guard members.
"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 said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.