February 10, 2012
HEADQUARTERS, US MARINE CORPS - On February 9, I was made aware of an internet photo depicting Marines posing with a flag containing a Nazi symbol. I want to be clear that the Marine Corps unequivocally does not condone the use of any such symbols to represent our units or Marines.
The local command to which the Marines in the photo were assigned investigated this issue last November. They determined that the Marines in the photo were ignorant of the connection of this symbol to the Holocaust and monumental atrocities associated with Nazi Germany. To ensure the Marines involved fully understood the historical use of the SS symbology, a formal instructional class was prepared and delivered by unit leadership.
In order to ensure that all Marines are aware of the Marine Corps' position on this issue, I have directed that:
—My commanders investigate the prevalence of the use of SS or other unauthorized symbols within the reconnaissance and sniper communities.
—The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps immediately detach from his current duties in Washington, DC and personally meet with every senior Staff Non-commissioned Officer and Marine from our sniper and reconnaissance communities to reinforce my message and expectations.
—The commanding general of our training and education command review the current sniper school curriculum to ensure it contains prohibitions on the use of the SS symbol and other inappropriate symbols.
On behalf of the Marine Corps and all Marines, I apologize to all offended by this regrettable incident.