UPDATE: Two soldiers off funeral duty after photo flap

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UPDATED: Friday, May 23, 2014 --- 9:35pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Two Wisconsin National Guard members are off funeral duty after an online uproar over a photo showing soldiers clowning around by an empty flag-draped casket.

Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Rickert confirmed that Spc. Terry Harrison and Sgt. Luis Jimenez are not currently on the funeral honors team.

Rickert says both Harrison and Jimenez remain Guard members. He tells WISC-TV (http://bit.ly/1j8P7C0) the internal investigation into the February photo incident is complete, but policy prevents him from disclosing any disciplinary actions.

Both Jimenez and Harrison had been suspended from honor guard duties -- Harrison for apparently posting the photo to social media and Jimenez for comments he posted on social media defending the photo.

The photo was taken at a Guard training facility.

Copyright 2014: The Associated Press
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UPDATED Wednesday, February 18, 2014 --- 1:27 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A second Wisconsin National Guard member has been suspended in an investigation stemming from a photograph showing soldiers clowning around by an empty flag-draped casket.

Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Rickert said Wednesday that Sgt. Luis Jimenez was suspended because of comments he posted on social media defending the photo.

Jimenez' comments have since been taken down, but in a screen shot confirmed by Rickert he defended the woman who originally posted the photo.

Jimenez writes that Spc. Terry Harrison wasn't disrespecting anyone, and that it's "good to let loose a little" after long practice sessions.

Jimenez was Harrison's task leader, or supervisor. Harrison also has been suspended.

No public telephone number for Jimenez could be found. Rickert said he would pass on a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 18, 2014 --- 2:36 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin National Guard says it has suspended an honor guard member who posted online a photo of soldiers mugging as they stood around an empty casket draped in a flag.

The photograph has drawn a strong reaction from veterans and the families of soldiers killed in action. Hundreds of people have posted comments to the National Guard's Facebook page, demanding the honor guard member and her supervisors be disciplined.

The National Guard said in a statement Tuesday that Spc. Terry Harrison, who owned the Instagram account, has been suspended from the honor guard and assigned to other duties while the matter is investigated.

The National Guard says the photograph was taken during training in Arkansas, not during a funeral.

Attempts to reach Harrison by telephone and email were unsuccessful.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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Posted Tuesday, February 18, 2014 --- 11:41 a.m.

From our news partner, WLUK in Green Bay:

APPLETON – A photo posted to social media sites Monday depicting a group of 14 soldiers posing in front of a flag-draped casket has caused outrage around the country.

Spc. Terry Harrison, a full-time member of the Wisconsin National Guard funeral detachment, is one of the soldiers posing in the photo.

Harrison has been suspended during an investigation into the incident, according to Maj. Paul Rickert, Director of Communications for the Wisconsin National Guard.

Rickert told FOX 11 Tuesday that Harrison has been a member of the funeral detachment for the guard for one year.

Rickert said the photo was taken in front of an empty, flag-draped casket at the Professional Education Center in Arkansas where Harrison and the other soldiers in the photo were training.

Rickert said an investigation was started Tuesday morning and Harrison has been temporarily reassigned to other duties until the investigation is complete.

“The Wisconsin National Guard takes our responsibilities for our fallen soldiers and our veterans very seriously and we expect all our soldiers who carry out that detail to handle it with professionalism and honor,” Rickert said.

Rickert said none of the other soldiers in the picture were from Wisconsin.

As of Tuesday morning there are more than 850 comments regarding the photo on the Guard’s Facebook page.

Rickert also said that since the photo was posted, Harrison who is from Milwaukee, has been receiving death threats.

Rickert said the Guard is allowing people to continue to post comments on the picture on the Guard’s Facebook page, but threatening and inappropriate comments are being removed.

“We understand that people are offended and concerned about these comments and photos and we take this matter very seriously.”

Rickert said the Adjutant General for the Wisconsin National Guard, Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, is also aware of the incident and has said that the investigation will move as quickly as possible.


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