A member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard was suspended from honor guard duties after a controversial photo posted to her Instagram account showing soldiers clowning around while posing with an empty, flag-draped casket created a firestorm on social media.
The photo, which shows one soldier giving another bunny ears and other soldiers making inappropriate poses, was slammed by veterans, military members and soldiers’ families as disrespectful. It was posted by Spc. Terry Harrison, a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Harrison shared the photo on Instagram with the caption, “We put the FUN in funeral – your fearless honor guard from various states.”
Outraged Americans posted the photo to the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Facebook page, which prompted officials to look into the situation, Wisconsin Army National Guard Maj. Paul D. Rickert told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Harrison has since deleted her Instagram account, although somebody is using the same handle – traaww. The handle’s profile says “Ima Losiento,” and contains photos with words including “I’m Sorry” and “Nobody’s perfect.”
The photo was shot at a National Guard training facility in Arkansas. Soldiers that weren’t in the Wisconsin Army National Guard also posed in the picture, the Associated Press reported.
The Wisconsin Army National Guard also took steps to protect Harrison, a member of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment based in Madison, after it was revealed that death threats were made against the soldier. Harrison was also suspended from honor guard duties. An investigation into the photo is ongoing.
Judy Vincent, an Oklahoma resident whose son, Marine Cpl. Scott Vincent, died in Iraq in 2004, was among those who were offended by the picture.
"It was like somebody slapped me in the face. I've never in my life seen such disrespect for the fallen or the families," she said.
She said she believed her son was treated with respect, but the photograph made others with family members in the military uneasy about how their kin were treated.
"It raises questions in your mind," she said. "What did they think of me and was my loved one treated with disrespect?"