The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) posted on its Twitter a photo and story of how disabled veterans are being trained to combat online child sexual exploitation.
Their picture featured Marine Sgt. Justin Gaertner, who lost both his legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.
Not long after the image was posted, it was blasted for featuring a person with what appeared to be an Iron Cross, the symbol of the German military and often associated with the Nazi Germany of World War II.
Actor Ron Perlman even posted a Tweet pointing out the tattoo.
“I know I’m a leftist, “D List” actor, so my twitter feed is probably deceiving me, but is that an iron cross tattooed on this hero’s arm? This is a mistake, right? Cuz the Iron Cross was a symbol of Nazi Germany,” he wrote. “Gotta be my twitter feed is leaning left again.”
ICE put out a statement explaining Sgt. Gaertner’s history and tattoo.
“Per Gaertner, the tattoo on his left elbow is actually ‘Titan 2,’ the symbol for his platoon while he fought in Afghanistan,” explained ICE. “The writing on his right arm is the Spartan Creed which is about protecting the family and children.”
“Justin Gaertner is a combat wounded US Marine who continues to serve his country as an ICE computer forensics analyst, helping to solve criminal cases and rescue children who have been sexually abused,” said ICE in the statement.
“During one of his three combat deployments, including two in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he served as a fire team leader and lead sweeper for IEDs, he was wounded by IEDs resulting in the loss of both legs and other permanent injuries.”
“He is a para-Olympic Athlete who has volunteered his time to motivate other wounded warriors and Boston bombing victims.”
“Anyone attempting to advance their personal political opinions by baselessly slandering an American hero should be issuing public apologies to Mr. Gaertner and retractions.”
Ron Perlman did then apologize for his earlier accusation.
“My apologies! I mistook the symbol on this man’s arm before I actually knew the facts,” he said. “So again, I apologize to the man in this picture for my mistake.”