The U.S. Coast Guard officer who "intentionally" flashed a white supremacist hand gesture in the background of a live TV interview in September was officially censured by the branch shortly after the incident, the Post and Courier reported on Thursday.
The Coast Guard issued a letter of censure to the unidentified officer on Oct. 5, less than a month after the officer appeared in the background of an MSNBC interview on Hurricane Florence response efforts.
"While your actions may have seemed funny or playful to you, they clearly showed lack of maturityu and an inability to understand the gravity of the situation," the letter, obtained by the Post and Courier through a Freedom Of Information Act request, says.
Shortly after the incident occurred, the Coast Guard stated that the branch "had identified the member and removed him from the response," adding that "his actions do not reflect those of the United States Coast Guard."
The letter also notes that Coast Guard personnel were "directly cautioned by a Public Affairs Specialist about the controversy surrounding that symbol just prior to the live interview being conducted," a statement that suggests defense officials are wising up to the use of white supremacist imagery among U.S. service members.
While the letter of censure won't see the light of day if the officer comes up for a promotion, an explanatory document will follow him around for the rest of his career, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Kelley told the Post and Courier.
More than 30% of service members see white nationalism as a significant threat to national security, according to an October 2017 Military Times poll. Only 27% said the same about Syria, 22% for Afghanistan, and 17% for Iraq.
The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a letter of censure to a member of its Hurricane Florence emergency response team in Charleston after he flashed an "OK" hand symbol during an interview on MSNBC on Sept. 14, 2018. (Screenshot MSNBC)
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