Photos of 'slashed airman' a hoax, officials say
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Gruesome photos circulated by e-mail that purport to show a U.S. airman with ferocious slash wounds from a barroom incident near Kunsan Air Base are a hoax, base officials said Thursday.
The photos, taken of a police officer who was slashed in the United States, were used by law enforcement authorities for training purposes, Air Force officials said.
Whether officials have identified who created the e-mail, how the photos were obtained, what motivated the hoax or whether an investigation is under way could not immediately be learned Thursday.
The e-mail began circulating within the U.S. military community in South Korea several weeks ago and also reached at least one Stars and Stripes reader on Okinawa. It contains color photos of a muscular male with deep, sweeping cuts across his torso. Some of the slashes run almost entirely across his back and chest and look to be about an inch deep along much of their length. His head is bandaged and his white boxer shorts bloodied.
The e-mail, which uses official Air Force unit terminology and suggests an intimate knowledge of the Air Force and Kunsan Air Base, reads: “Kunsan Staff Sergeant Michael Jones was assaulted in an A-Town bar by unknown assailants. 8th SFS and members of the OSI Detachment 641 B are investigating.”
The e-mail then gave a DSN number and a commercial number with a Houston area code for those wishing “to donate to the family of SSgt Jones.” Repeated calls to the DSN number went unanswered Thursday and calls to the Texas number produced a recording stating that the number is not in service.
A-Town is a commercial district about three miles from Kunsan Air Base. Its bars, restaurants and other establishments cater to a mostly American clientele. The 8th SFS refers to the 8th Security Forces Squadron, the Air Force police unit at Kunsan. The OSI reference is to a U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment at the base. The 8th MXS is the 8th Maintenance Squadron at Kunsan.
“The photos are of a U.S. marshal, somewhere in the States, and the photos, from what we understand, were related to officer safety or something … used for training, so it has nothing to do with Korea,” said Capt. Richard Komurek, chief spokesman for Kunsan’s 8th Fighter Wing, also known as the Wolf Pack.
“The name of the person on that hoax e-mail is not anyone that is stationed at Kunsan,” Komurek said. “I don’t know in the history of Kunsan if that person was ever stationed here, but when that e-mail came out, that person was not stationed here.”
Wing officials first became aware of the e-mail two to three weeks ago, Komurek said, when a member of the base community reported it to the wing public affairs office.
Wing officials, including OSI personnel, checked into the report and within a day or so concluded it was fake, Komurek said.
“We had no such attack and we confirmed that the e-mail was a hoax. We notified the chain of command and the Wolf Pack members about the e-mail right away,” he said.