National Guard Soldiers Suspended Over Empty Casket Photo
Wisconsin National Guard member Sgt. Luis Jimenez has been suspended for defending a fellow guard member who posted a photograph online that showed soldiers clowning around an empty flag-draped casket.
"He has been suspended from his duties as a funeral honors team member until the investigation is complete," spokesman Maj. Paul Rickert told the Associated Press.
Sgt. Jimenez defended Spc. Terry Harrison who originally posted the photo on Instagram and was suspended.
Sgt. Jimenez was Spc. Harrison's supervisor in the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, based in Madison, Wis.
The picture was taken at an Arkansas National Guard training facility.
According to CBS News, the photo included a caption that read, "We put the FUN in funeral — your fearless honor guard from various states."
The picture and caption caused a fury on the National Guard's Facebook page. Spc. Harrison has received death threats.
"She isn't disrespecting anyone," Sgt. Jimenez wrote on Facebook. "It's actually a selfless commitment she has made. These practice sessions are very long. It's good to let loose a little. When your job constantly asked you to be serious. And no there's no one in the casket."
Gen. Frank Grass, head of the National Guard, ordered an investigation into the "disgraceful incident."
"This image is in very poor taste and clearly does not represent the values of the National Guard," Gen. Grass said in a statement. "I am confident the Army National Guard will quickly resolve this matter and take swift and appropriate action. Funeral duties are sacred and America's fallen deserve nothing less than our deepest respect."