Germany — Ramstein Air Base announced they removed a photo of uniformed airmen flying a “thin blue line” flag. The base apologized for the move, stating that the photo violated Defense Department policy regarding the types of flags that are permitted to be flown on U.S. bases.
The airmen had carried the flag while in uniform during a 24-hour ruck march to celebrate National Police Week, as Jennifer H. Svan of Stars and Stripes first reported. The Security Forces Airmen, the Air Force equivalent to law enforcement, have used the Thin Blue Line Flag for decades to honor law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty, said Air Force Lt. Col. William Powell, the top spokesman for the 86th Airlift Wing.
The Ramstein-based 86th Airlift Wing shared—but then removed—photos on its Facebook page of uniformed airmen carrying the black-and-white American flag with a blue stripe symbolizing support for law enforcement.
The images raised concerns for some members of the community, who questioned whether the flag should be displayed on a U.S. military base.
“Really surprised to see such a highly charged political flag being flown on base by airmen in uniform,” a commenter said in response to the original photo posts, according to the outlet. “I thought this was not allowed in uniform. Has this changed?”
Following the backlash, Ramstein Air Base officials removed the photos and shared a statement on Facebook acknowledging the flag violated Defense Department policy.
“Earlier this evening, we shared a series of photos in support of our base Defenders as part of Police Week. Defenders from multiple units participated in a 24-hour ruck/run march to celebrate our Airmen who protect our installation and community. These photos were only intended to show praise for their hard work and military service,” the statement read.
“The photos did, however, violate the Department of Defense Policy regarding the use of flags on military installations. For this, we take full responsibility. All of our Airmen are our greatest asset, and supporting them requires mutual respect, responsibility, and accountability. We have reviewed policy and will ensure content on Ramstein Air Base’s Facebook page is a true reflection of DoD and U.S. Air Force values.”