There are two things you need to know about the pictures on a recent Montana National Guard recruiting poster: The first is that the soldier in the center is Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence DeBoo, the CSM for the Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, and he is holding a picture of his grandfather Louis DeBoo, an Air Force veteran from the 1950s.

The second thing you need to know is that — No — the soldiers in the background behind them are not Nazis.

In the latest instance of a social media miscue of good intentions and bad stock photos, the Guard’s poster — published both on paper and on social media — put CSM DeBoo and his grandfather’s photo over a 2014 stock photo of World War II reenactors in Belarus who were playing German soldiers.

Guard officials discovered it too late to change the poster, spokesperson Major Ryan Finnegan told Task & Purpose.

“Montana National Guard leadership recently became aware of a Montana Army National Guard recruiting poster that includes a small background image that appears to show members of the German Army,” Finnegan said in a prepared statement. “As soon as we became aware of the issue, we directed the vendor to remove the poster immediately. While the poster was intended to highlight Montana’s tradition of multi-generation service, the background image does not represent our history or values. Montana National Guard leadership is putting in place an approval system to ensure nothing like this happens again, and we regret and apologize for this serious mistake.”

To the credit of the Montana Guard, its apology seems heartfelt and offers no excuses, which is more than you can say for the many, many organizations — from huge corporations to national political leaders and campaigns — that have made exactly the same mistake.

In 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump made an identical mistake — using a 2006 stock photo of German reenactors as the background in an online poster — and blamed a “young intern.”

Army photo

Trump also had a gaffe with Russian jets and troops, but he’s not the only one.

Nearly every Memorial Day, Veterans Day, July 4 or service anniversary, dozens of companies and politicians make a similar mistake by tweeting, posting or otherwise sharing hastily-assembled images of military imagery that unintentionally includes foreign — and often hostile — hardware.

It happens to serving politicians, such as Congressman Brian Mast, who wished the U.S. Navy a Happy Birthday with a Russian ship.

In another birthday gaffe, the U.S. State Department wished the Air Force a Happy Birthday with a photo of the Blue Angels, the Navy’s precision flying team.

Army photo

It happened to Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville — who you’d think would know — when he tweeted a note about the M1 Abrams tank with a video of a German tank.

And then of course there’s that one time a well-laid prank tricked the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings into giving a “SkolSalute” on a stadium scoreboard to a well-known adult movie actor.

We salute this man. (Twitter)
Adult actor Johnny Sins was thanked for his service at a Minnesota Vikings game

The ‘enemy stock photo’ gaffe which may have reached the widest audience might have just occurred this weekend at the Super Bowl. During CBS’ broadcast of the game — which set viewership records juiced by the presence of Taylor Swift — the network ran a promo for its popular NCIS:Hawai’i, which features plots built around the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, which is based in Pearl Harbor.

But the promo’s graphics featured a photo of a Russian Slava-class cruiser which is almost certainly the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet which was sunk by a Ukrainian Neptune missile strike in April 22.

Or maybe it was an intentional easter egg to telegraph that CBS is working on NCIS:Kyiv.

Army photo
CBS either messed up their stock art or gave the Super Bowl audience a live shot from the bottom of the Black Sea.

The Montana poster, of course, has showed up on social media and taken a fair amount of flak, nearly none of which is worth repeating, except for one note. X user Nasi Bule notes that any depiction of the Montana Guard associating in anyway with Nazi soldiers is patently false.

“Now this is an epic fail,” Nasi Bule wrote. “I believe that the Montana ANG served in the Pacific, not Europe.”

True, said Finnegan.

“During World War II, the Montana National Guard’s 163rd Infantry Regiment fought in the Pacific Theater from 1942 through 1945 during the Southern Philippines, New Guinean and Papuan Campaigns,” he said.

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