This series examines reports over the last five years that suggest the idea that dumbing down of our military does exist. The question is: will see more of it in the coming year?
Here are three examples of military members dumbing down the ranks of their respective military service men and women, all reported over a 10-day period in February, 2014.These actions indicate their inability to bring integrity and honor to their respective service branch. We hope we won't see more of them in the remainder of this year.
Soldier flagrantly avoids flag salute, sets off online outrage (Army)
PFC Tariqka Sheffey, a member of the 59th Quartermaster Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, at Fort Carson, Colo., decided that she didn't want to salute the American flag so she hid out in her car during the ceremony. She then told the whole world of her actions by taking a “selfie” and transmitting it to Instagram, Facebook and the Army Times. The caption accompanying her picture read, “This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don’t have to salute the 1700 flag, KEEP ALL YOUR ‘THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOWRUDE/ETC.’ COMMENTS TO YOURSELF cuz, right now, IDGAFFFF.”
Her postings resulted with a firestorm of responses on the Internet. As expected, she later expressed regret at her actions but didn't really apologize. Her posting read, “I seriously just want to say thank you to everybody who stood up to me today, like seriously. That s--- to me was not that serious. I am not a disrespectful soldier and I really appreciate you all.”
Photo of an airman kissing POW-MIA symbol causes uproar (Air Force)
On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the National League of Families' POW/MIA Flag and designated it “as the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation”.
This flag is especially honored by Vietnam veterans. But both veterans and active duty personnel reacted with outrage and disgust when a picture showed then Senior Airman Cherish Byers, of the 92nd Security Forces Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash, tongue-kissing a “Prisoner of War-Missing in Action symbol”.
In a statement to the Air Force Times, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody said, “It’s a concern any time someone shows disrespect for prisoners of war and those missing in action. They deserve our utmost respect and we must always remember their sacrifice and the legacy they’ve left for us as men and women serving our nation.”
Although the picture was reportedly taken about three years ago, the Air Force is currently investigating the incident to see if “disciplinary measures are warranted.”
Funeral honors detail comically pose alongside a flag-draped casket (National Guard)
Veterans still remember the pain and suffering of returning home from the Vietnam War and being greeted by people filled with contempt. We were yelled at, spat on, and in some cases physically assaulted. Fortunately, America has come to its senses since the Vietnam War.
Despite the longevity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, people of the U.S. continue to reaffirm their respect of our military. They have contributed millions of dollars to charities, greeted soldiers arriving at airports, visited wounded veterans in hospitals, and stopped to honor the grieving families returning home with the caskets of their loved ones.
Most of those veterans were either stunned or shocked to find a photo of members of National Guard Honor Guard comically posing next to an empty flag-draped casket. The photo was taken at a National Guard training facility in North Little Rock, Ark. The photo was posted on social media sites with a caption that read, "We put the FUN in funeral your fearless honor guard from various states."
The photos were quickly removed from all social media sites.
Maj. Paul Rickert, Wisconsin National Guard's director of public affairs, reported Spc. Terry Harrison was suspended from her duties pending the outcome of the Guard's investigation being conducted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). "A military funeral is the final show of respect for our veterans and their families, and we take that solemn duty very seriously," Rickert said.
One Austin veteran, who was a promotion clerk in Vietnam, said, “Sometimes, dumbing down comes from from military members themselves, not just from top management down. An Article 15 of the UCMJ should forthwith be the minimum punishment given to each of these soldiers for their actions”.
A non-U.S. Olympian athlete honors America
The actions of these soldiers must be compared to that of Jamaican sprinter and four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Usain St. Leo Bolt. He was being interviewed by a Spanish journalist while American Sanya Richards-Ross was standing on the podium waiting for her Gold Medal in the 2012 Olympics. After the Star Spangled Banner began playing, Bolt excused himself from the interviewer, faced the speakers, and stood at attention until the end of the song.
We veterans applaud the actions of Usain Bolt and hope the offending men and women in these stories would learn to do the same.
Other reports in this series: