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The Army Is Investigating The Pro-Communist West Point Grad In This Viral Photo
The Army is “looking into” the West Point graduate and Afghanistan combat veteran who appeared to endorse communism in social media posts, the U.S. Military Academy announced on Sept. 26.
A photo of 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone in a West Point uniform with a paper sign reading “Communism Will Win” tucked into his cover went viral with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick on Sept. 24. A self-described “commie/space cowboy,” Rapone identifies himself as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America on his Twitter account.
The photo of Rapone — who earned a Combat Infantry Badge as an enlisted grunt in Afghanistan before his appointment to USMA — went viral amid President Donald Trump’s war of words with the National Football League over players’ decisions to kneel in silent protest against police brutality and systemic racism during the pre-game national anthem. On Sept. 25, Rapone posted a second photo of himself wearing the infamous image of communist guerrilla Che Guevara under his uniform.
The controversy has sparked a national conversation among both civilians and the military community regarding respect for military service and free speech. But West Point took pains to distance itself from the recent grad’s social media posts.
“Second Lieutenant Rapone's actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army,” USMA said in a statement. “As figures of public trust, members of the military must exhibit exemplary conduct, and are prohibited from engaging in certain expressions of political speech in uniform.”
That the Army takes this seriously is no surprise. As we noted after the violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville in August, the branch’s equal opportunity manual explicitly states that “participation in extremist organizations and activities by Army personnel is inconsistent with the responsibilities of military service.” And the DoD’s longstanding policy on service members’ politicking, Directive 1344.10, bars “partisan political activity” — which includes serving “in any official capacity or [being] listed as a sponsor of a partisan political club.”
The full extent of Rapone’s political activities is unclear, and it seems unlikely that the branch would discipline the second lieutenant simply for holding political beliefs; just consider beloved NFL star turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, who called the invasion of Iraq an “illegal and unjust” war despite his combat service and death under fire. On the other hand, even a simple photograph of women of color at West Point with raised fists triggered an investigation into the propriety of the cadets’ “political” activity last year.
But Rapone could face disciplinary action for his digital broadsides against the chain of command, a potential violation of Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 88:
Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
In a June 7 tweet, Rapone referred to Secretary of Defense James Mattis as “the most evil, vile fuck” in the Trump administration:
The Army did not immediately respond to request for comment from Task & Purpose.
In his sanctions announcement, Trump accidentally named the wrong supreme leader of Iran, who has been dead since 1989
Exclusive: Video shows Navy SEAL flying drone over body of ISIS fighter shortly after Eddie Gallagher allegedly stabbed him
Shortly after Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher allegedly murdered a wounded ISIS prisoner, about half a dozen of his SEAL teammates watched as one SEAL flew a drone around their compound and hovered it just inches over the dead man's body.
It was yet another ethical lapse for the men of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon, many of whom had just taken a group photograph with the deceased victim after their commander had held an impromptu reenlistment ceremony for Gallagher near the body. Although some expressed remorse in courtroom testimony over their participation in the photo, video footage from later that morning showed a number of SEALs acted with little regard for the remains of Gallagher's alleged victim.
The video — which was shown to the jury and courtroom spectators last week in the trial of Gallagher — was recently obtained by Task & Purpose.
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.
Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.
Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.
Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.
Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.
Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.