Photo of Air Force Staff Sgt. Kissing POW-MIA Symbol Causes Uproar


A three-year-old photo of a an Air Force staff sergeant kissing the POW-MIA symbol has gone viral, causing a severe backlash for the airman in question.

The photo is three years old, but was posted to several Facebook pages this week, including the Military Minds page, causing an instant backlash:

The airman has been identified as Staff Sgt. Cherish Byers, of the
92nd Security Forces Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane,
Wash., said Staff Sgt. Alex Montes, a spokesman for the 92nd Air
Refueling Wing. Byers is the subject of a command-directed
investigation that will determine if any disciplinary measures are
warranted, Montes told Air Force Times on Friday. The picture was taken
about three years ago but investigators don’t yet know where it was

The POW-MIA emblem is a symbol which represents US military taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action.

“There’s absolutely no reason to have done anything like
that,” Marine Corps veteran Michael Kelley told The Army Times. “It goes completely against everything that we’re
taught in the military from Day 1. She failed herself; she’s failed the
Air Force and the military community as a whole by doing something that
disrespectful and then having it get out to the world like that.”

An investigation into the photo was launched on Friday morning, according to Stars and Stripes:

“We do not yet have all the details behind the photo, but it certainly
is a concern; it’s a concern any time someone shows disrespect for
prisoners of war and those missing in action,” Chief Master Sgt. of the
Air Force James Cody said in a statement. “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.
“I want to make it clear that this is not a reflection of Airmen who
wear this uniform; it is a case of poor judgment of one Airman … to say
we are disappointed would be an understatement. We are gathering all the
details and will take appropriate action at the appropriate level,” he
said. “Our Airmen fully understand the significance of the POW/MIA flag
and the sacrifice of the men and women it honors.”

It seems like the picture was taken in jest and to the 12-year-old boy who lives forever trapped inside me, perpetually trying to escape via fart jokes, I can see where this might be seen as a funny thing to do on a whim with your dorky friends egging you on for a picture. But unfortunately, we live in the age of digital pile-ons, and one foolish mistake can lead to tens of thousands of people calling for your head.

Now let’s all close our eyes and listen our mother’s voices in our heads, lecturing us about the dangers of the Internet, how nothing is ever truly private and how we should always, always think twice about the pictures we take and who we share them with.

Image via Facebook

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