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US Military Probes Photo of Soldier Wearing SS Emblem on His Uniform

The U.S. Army is launching an investigation after a National Guard unit posted a photo to its official Instagram account this week that showed a service member with a patch that appears to depict a Nazi SS Totenkopf, a specific skull-and-crossbones image that was adopted by Adolf Hitler’s elite corps.

The 20th Special Forces Group, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, posted the photo Sunday along with the caption, “That weekend feeling. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Don’t stop training. Don’t get complacent.”

The post was then deleted after it garnered comments criticizing the patch, which was visible on the back of one service member’s helmet.

“The use of symbols and patches depicting historic images of hate is not tolerated and a clear violation of our values,” said Maj. Russell Gordon, spokesperson for 1st Special Forces Command. “We are aware of the situation and are currently investigating the matter.”

The Alabama National Guard is assisting 1st Special Forces Command with the investigation, said Mack Muzio, a National Guard spokesperson.

Gordon confirmed the unit deleted the post. However, a screenshot of the image was shared by individuals to other social media sites in subsequent days, where hundreds of people have criticized the unit and commented on the historical significance of the image.

Since World War II, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists have adopted the Totenkopf as a symbol of hate, the database states.

The investigation comes just one month after the Montana National Guard issued an apology for its use of photos in recruiting materials that showed Nazi soldiers marching during World War II. Those images, too, sparked outrage online.