Here we have a group of Air Force enlisted personnel gathered around a fellow airman in a casket, giving us their opinion as to whether or not they will "make rank" and get to continue their careers.
The signal they are giving is "stop." And that's what their careers are about to do--come to a complete stop.
Yes, it was all in good fun. But this arrives on the heels of finding out that the Air Force was incinerating human remains and then dumping them in a landfill, and it does speak to the fact that respect for the dead is apparently not being taught in the schoolhouse.
Note the stripes on the sleeves. These are not neophytes. It takes ten years in some cases to make those stripes in the Air Force. All it would have taken was for one of these "leaders" to put a stop to the shenanigans and ensure that no photos would emerge from their little fun time. All it would have taken was for one leader in this group to save everyone's career (and I don't know if this really will end their careers, but the Air Force has been thoroughly embarrassed here and it has gone all the way to the top). That didn't happen.
Gallows humor is not understood by the civilian population, especially in wartime. Perhaps it is time to take this mission away from the Air Force.
Since we're cutting things and reducing the rolls, why not turn this into a mission for the National Guard? In order to serve on a casualty transportation team, a National Guardsman must be a Sergeant First Class or of a higher enlisted rank and demonstrate maturity, discipline and respect.