OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (AP) _ The Air Force is discharging three airmen who paraded around like Klansmen with pillowcases over their heads.

The Air Force firefighters, all white and in their early 20s, were in the base firehouse when they walked down a hallway Jan. 28 with pillowcases on their heads. A black co-worker took offense and struck one of them, and a scuffle broke out, the Air Force said.

The three men, whose names were not released, said they did not mean to offend their co-worker and intended the actions as a joke.

All three airmen were restricted to the base for 30 days, two were reduced in rank, one was fined $200 and one was assigned extra duty.

Two of the men were discharged in mid-February because of the incident and previous disciplinary problems. The third will be discharged later this month for failing to perform the extra duty, the Air Force said.

Brig. Gen. Gary Ambrose, commander of the 55th Wing, Offutt's biggest unit, said it was an isolated incident and did not indicate widespread racism at the base.