One catch: According to the depot and the private veterans group in charge of the POW/MIA "missing man" table, the Bible in question – boasting a camouflage cover design and a depot logo from the 1980s featuring a satellite dish – wasn't supposed to be there in the first place.
"It is unknown who placed a [B]ible on the table or when this occurred, but it was not sanctioned or approved by the depot's Chain of Command or the Veterans' Council," a spokesman for the Pennsylvania depot said Tuesday via email. "Once brought to light, the [B]ible was immediately removed. … The Veterans' Council instituted a procedure to ensure that a [B]ible is not placed on the display table."
The council has maintained the display for more than 10 years and removed a Bible from it in 2012 after depot-wide audit of private groups operating on-post to ensure they were within federal guidelines, according to the statement. Late last year, the display was moved to its current location because of building renovations; at the time, per the statement, it didn't include a Bible.
The council member charged with display maintenance duties – which include washing the tablecloth and resetting the items – told Army Times that he'd never seen the camo-covered book before photos of it appeared online Monday, and that he last remembered tending to the display in February. He requested his name not be used.
No individuals at the depot, which employs more than 3,800 Defense Department workers and 93 soldiers, lodged complaints with the installation at any staff-office level, according to the statement. Nobody mentioned the book to the council, which has monthly meetings over lunch breaks at the depot that usually involve about a dozen people.
His first formal complaint about the display came last week, he said, after the MRFF had filed similar, successful complaints with Veterans Affairs Department facilities in Ohio, as well as with Ohio's Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, regarding POW tables in those locations. A VA center in Houston also removed a Bible from its display this month.
He said the installation's explanation of the matter "strains credulity" and that the removal wasn't the end of the issue, demanding further investigation and punishment for those found responsible.
"This is half a loaf of bread," Weinstein said. "We commend the Army for doing the right thing. We remind everyone that they had to do it under the duress of a threat."
Weinstein's initial letter to the depot's commander, a copy of which he provided to Army Times, gave installation leadership until Thursday to remove the book before the group lodged more formal complaints.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.