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No criminal charges for airmen who posed around casket

In an August photo, airmen surround an open casket with another airman posed with a noose around his neck and chains across his body.

The Air Force has concluded there was “no criminal conduct” by airmen who posed around an open casket with another airman inside pretending to be dead.

The photo, which first came to light on Dec. 13 in the Air Force Times, drew outrage from military commanders, military wives, widows and others who saw it as mocking deceased service members.


 “Da Dumpt, Da Dumpt … Sucks 2 Be U” was scribbled at the bottom of the photo.

Rather than criminal charges, the airmen involved in the picture received administrative punishment because their conduct “brought discredit to both the military and themselves,” Col. Gregory Reese, commander of the 37th Training Group, said in news release sent to msnbc.com. The Air Force said it does not disclose details of administrative actions due to privacy concerns.

Read Monday’s Air Force Times story

 “The investigation indicated that the photo was intended by those who took it to remind the students that they could be killed if they failed to pay attention while loading and unloading aircraft,” Reese said.

The service members in the picture were airmen with the 345th Training Squadron at Fort Lee, Va., where they learn to load and unload aircraft. Their unit is a detachment from a command at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, which issued the news release about the punishment.

The photo, it turned out, was a sort of unofficial class picture in which “creativity got ahead of common sense,” Gerry Proctor, 37thTraining Wing spokesman, told msnbc.com.

After the photo became public, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, expressed concern that the photo might cause more turmoil for families of fallen troops.

"Such behavior is not consistent with our core values, and it is not representative of the Airmen I know. It saddens me that this may cause additional grief to the families of our fallen warriors,” Donley told  the Air Force Times.

In response to the photo, 37th Training Wing commander, Col. Eric Axelbank issued a wing-wide policy that requires all class photography and memorabilia to be reviewed by squadron commanders.

Proctor told msnbc.com that with the investigation complete and administrative punishment handed out, the Air Force considers the case closed.

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