SAN DIEGO - The Marine Corps on Thursday once again did damage control after a photograph surfaced of a sniper team in Afghanistan posing in front of a flag with a logo resembling that of the notorious Nazi SS - a special unit that murdered millions of Jews, gypsies and others.
The Corps said in a statement that using the symbol was not acceptable.
However, it was a naive mistake made by Marines who believed the SS symbol was meant to represent sniper scouts and never intended to associate themselves with a racist organization, said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Camp Pendleton.
The Marines in the image will not be disciplined because investigators determined there was no malicious intent, Chapin said.
Instead, the Corps used the incident as a training tool to talk to troops about what symbols are acceptable after it became aware of the photograph last November.
The image has since surfaced on an Internet blog.
"I don't believe that the Marines involved would have ever used any type of symbol associated with the Nazi Germany military criminal organization that committed mass atrocities in WWII," Chapin said. "It's not within who we are as Marines."
Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in Washington said he has been flooded with calls from former Marines offended by the photo and from one member of his organization who is an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor.