© unknownThis controversial photo has launched an Air Force investigation
The Air Force has launched an investigation into a controversial photo that shows several non-commissioned officers posing with an open casket, in which a fellow airman poses with a noose around his neck and chains over his body.

The Air Force Times received a copy of the photo over email, which includes the caption, "Da Dumpt, Da Dumpt .... Sucks 2 Be U." The casket is similar to those used to transport deceased U.S. soldiers home from the battlefield.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the paper that investigators were mounting an inquiry of the grief the image might cause for families of fallen service members. "We take this matter seriously. [Air Education and Training Command] has initiated a commander directed investigation," Donley said in a statement.

"Such behavior is not consistent with our core values, and it is not representative of the Airmen I know. It saddens me that this may cause additional grief to the families of our fallen warriors."

The photo, dated August 23rd, was reportedly taken by airmen with the 345th Training Squadron at Fort Lee, Virginia, according to Gerry Proctor, spokesman for the 37th Training Group at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, which includes the 345th Training Squadron.

First appearing on Facebook in early October, the image has since been forwarded by several individuals, including a former soldier and Army spouse.

The investigation by the commander of the 37th Training Group is expected to take about two weeks, according to David Smith, a spokesman for AETC at Randolph Air Force Base, Tex.