Air Force officials said they are launching an investigation into a photo of 15 airmen posing with another airman lying inside an open casket, pretending to be dead with a noose around his neck and chains across his body.
"Da Dumpt, Da Dumpt...Sucks 2 B U!" a caption across the bottom of the photo reads.
It shows the airmen, a mix of men and women, standing beside the metallic casket similar to those used to carry war dead.
The intended purpose of the photograph, dated Aug. 23, is unknown. It appeared on Facebook in early October, the Air Force Times reported, and forwarded to the newspaper earlier this week.
An Air Force spokesman for the Pentagon told the Associated Press the group is from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and the photo was taken during a training session at Fort Lee, Va.
Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the Air Force Times his concern was for the families of fallen troops who could be disturbed by the image.
“We take this matter seriously. [Air Education and Training Command] has initiated a commander directed investigation,” Donley said in a statement. “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.”
An investigation is expected to take one to two weeks. It comes less than a month after reports that the Air Force mishandled the remains of nearly 300 war dead at a mortuary at Dover, Del.