Outrage at National “Honor” Guard troops who posed with coffin and threw hand signals to ‘put the fun back in funeral’
I understand the need to “let your hair down” every once in a while at work but Terry Harrison went too far with these ‘fun in funeral’ pictures.
A member of Wisconsin National Guard has been suspended from honor guard duties after a picture appeared on social media sites showing soldiers joking around by an empty, flag-draped casket. The group photograph, taken at an Arkansas training facility, sparked backlash online where members of Facebook and military chat rooms condemned it for being disrespectful. The picture appeared on an Instagram account belonging to Specialist Terry Harrison, who has received death threats over it, according to the National Guard.
Disrespectful: Terry Harrison has been suspended from military honor duties after this picture of a training session appeared on social media sites. Although the account has been closed the picture, which showed a group of soldiers hugging, pulling faces and making peace signs around a coffin, was shared on other social media sites. A caption under the original photo read: ‘We put the FUN in funeral – your fearless honor guard from various states’.
In a second picture, complaints were made about attending an outside funeral in winter, with a post that read: ‘It’s so damn cold out … why have a funeral outside!? Somebody’s getting a jacked up flag.’ According to the Guard, the group picture was taken at the Professional Education Center training center in Little Rock. Several military families were hurt by the disrespectful nature of the photo, and more than 900 contacted the guard to ask for the soldiers responsible to be disciplined.
‘It was like somebody slapped me in the face. I’ve never in my life seen such disrespect for the fallen or the families,’ Judy Vincent, whose son, Scott, died in Iraq in 2004, said.
The mother, from Poteau, Oklahoma, added: ‘It raises questions in your mind. What did they think of me, and was my loved one treated with disrespect?’
In a Facebook post seen by the Army Times, Miguel Riley, a Kansas soldier wrote on Facebook ‘As the [noncomissioned officer in charge] for the honor guard of my unit on the active duty side, I am completely disgusted to see this.’
Major Paul Rickert, the Wisconsin National Guard’s public affairs director, said he was appalled by the offensive 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,’ Major Rickert told ABC 19, adding that the photo and comments didn’t appear to meet the values the guard is expected to uphold.
This group of young soldiers need to experience the pain of war and loss to understand how ugly their actions were. Our fallen heroes deserve every minute of our respect especially from those sent by the US government trained with the solemn duty to deliver condolences from the President of the United States. Shame on you.