Katastropheneinsatz: Democratic Representative Ridiculed Over Sending Out Picture of Faux U.S. Sailor Wearing German Luftwaffe Insignia

Bundeswehr_LuftwaffeBrownley-CA26-picAs someone who writes on military history, I could not resist a story this week out of California. Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley has a novel campaign challenge on her hands this week after it was discovered that her mass political mailer showed a picture of female sailor in what was supposed to be a U.S. military uniform — showing Browley’s support from veterans and current military personnel. Unfortunately, the woman was actually wearing not only a fake military uniform but one displaying German Luftwaffe insignia. Of course, at least Brownley can use the connection to the Bundeswehr to call out the Katastropheneinsatz to handle disaster control relief.


Brownley’s flier shows a young woman in a white, open-collared military uniform, wearing a white cap displaying a gold insignia and blue-and-gold trim. She was apparently meant to appear as a grateful and real U.S. female sailor. However, she was presumably a model and she was dressed in a uniform supporting the symbol of the Bundeswehr Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force. Notably, neither the U.S. Navy nor the German Bundeswehr have a uniform like this so it appears to have been thrown together rather amateurishly to look like what someone thought was a soldier or sailor. (This is the modern Luftwaffe insignia obviously since the World War II insignia had a swastika under a different eagle design). Brownley’s opponent has suggested that this is a “purchased stock photo” that was simply inserted into the flyer to display military supporters.

The gaffe may be more damaging in the need to use a stock photo or model rather than a real veteran supporter. Brownley serves on the House Committee for Veteran Affairs and is ranking member on the House’s Subcommittee on Health, which oversees the VA. Such a mistake is no laughing matter to some in the military. The 26th congressional district contains a large Navy installation near Oxnard that supports 19,000 naval personnel.

Frankly, I think the gaffe is pretty funny. What I find more disturbing is that the mailer was actually sent out with public funds rather than campaign funds. It seems overtly campaign like literature, but members have been repeatedly criticized for using “franking” privileges for such mailers. I do not understand how a flier proclaiming how Brownley is “Reaching Across the Aisle For Real Results” is anything other than a campaign pitch.

Brownley is still favored in the race. Her opponent ironically is a former naval intelligence officer.

Brownley-campaign-flyer-620x469

27 thoughts on “Katastropheneinsatz: Democratic Representative Ridiculed Over Sending Out Picture of Faux U.S. Sailor Wearing German Luftwaffe Insignia”

  1. Paul C. Schulte

    Karen – I think scolding works well in all languages.
    ==================
    Yep.

    When you want to scold someone for being naive as to propaganda, in German, you say SCHULTE ! (“indoctrinated”)

    1. Dredd – you really need to learn German. schulte means ‘to indoctrinate’

  2. Brownley is still favored in the race. Her opponent ironically is a former naval intelligence officer.” – JT

    Oh, those jingoistic people who sell “security” and “freedom” to the highest bidder as they spy on them?

    Such as the military NSA?

    Sounds like their uniform would have to be changed to be truthful.

    Don’t miss the big parts of the puzzle JT.

  3. Great, another political debacle from my state of CA.

    My biggest problem is that public funds were used for campaigning. Otherwise, it was an honest, if foolish, mistake by someone on her staff. Regardless, she has egg on her face, and should be scolded in German. No one scolds like a German.

  4. Nick Spinelli

    Just another example that the meme, “Republicans are stupid” is BS. POLITICIANS are stupid.
    ———————————
    Paul C. Schulte

    Stupid is as stupid does. Although it is probably pure ignorance here. The PR people did not know the difference and were trying to throw something together that looked ‘authentic.’
    ===============================
    Take that Governor Bobby “Republicans are the party of stupid” Jindal (R-LA).

  5. Warspite: Luftwaffe is simply the German word for air force. The Nazis had one and now the Bundesrepublik has one, too. Squeaky: great Irish poem!!

  6. While military members do not wear German insignia on their hats (whether it is WWII era or not), some DO wear German insignia of specific types. Military members who cross-train with the German military, for instance, might be granted and DO wear things like German ‘jump wings’ and this is perfectly legitimate. After all, we are now allies.

    But yeah, if that young woman was real Navy, I’d be rousting her to get her hair up.

  7. Stupid is as stupid does. Although it is probably pure ignorance here. The PR people did not know the difference and were trying to throw something together that looked ‘authentic.’

  8. Well, this needs an Irish Poem!

    Ich Bin Ein Polititioner???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    Frau Brownley has got some cajone!
    Sending out what’s an obvious phony.
    Oh, she reached out, no doubt
    But the Sailor ‘s a KRAUT. . .
    Which goes pretty well with baloney.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. Just another example that the meme, “Republicans are stupid” is BS. POLITICIANS are stupid.

  10. Anyone ever consider that “gaffe” may not be a mistake at all?

    Members of the armed services may not appear in support–or opposition–for a political candidate’s campaign. Even if it is a model, to be presented in a correct current uniform of a serving member of the military in the context of a political campaign is illegal.

  11. I’m confused. Ok, the pol’s PR firm used a model & tossed together something that “looked” like a uniform. But is the insignia Luftwaffe or the post-WWII air forces? The insignia doesn’t look like WWII vintage, though it might be. There’s a big difference between the Bundeswehr & any WWII [Nazi] forces.

  12. The hair on the Navy model gives is another giveaway, a real Navy female would have her hair up in a bun or cut short with no hair touching her collar. Her hair is a mess.

  13. Well, I’m sure our veterans feel very secure in the knowledge that this member of the committee understands their issues and has their best interests at heart.

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