The release of images of U.S. Marines with a Nazi SS flag has forced the U.S. Marine Corps to announce two things: First, that it does not condone the use of Nazi iconography. Second, that it is possible to have "no malicious intent" when displaying the SS symbol because some Marines have reinterpreted it to symbolize "Scout Sniper."
Turns out the symbol has crossed over before. The letters SS come up often for scout snipers, who belong to the Scout Sniper Platoon, or SSP. Their motto is "One Shot One Kill," and as such, the group's symbology tends towards the fearsome. (Skulls with holes in the foreheads are common.
Uncomfortably enough, the Nazi Schutzstaffel was into skull imagery, too, as pictured at left.) Scouring the internet for scout sniper logo, tattoo, and t-shirt designs, we found a handful of designs that included the telltale bolt-like SS also favored by Nazis. They were few and far between, and were referred to only on unofficial websites and message boards.
I'm not sure this makes acquiring and posing with an SS flag any less ridiculous—just a reminder that we're discussing the aesthetic of amped-up 20-somethings with an institutional desire to look badass. [Images via, via, via]