The Marine Corps wants to kick out a neo-Nazi Marine who assaulted protesters during a white supremacist march last year, but the details of his potential exit — including whether he might enjoy VA benefits — are still up in the air.
Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis will be processed for administrative separation after being found guilty at a June 19 summary court-martial of failure to obey an order or regulation and making a false official statement, according to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group. He was sentenced 28 days of confinement, reduction in rank to E-1, and forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month.
Interestingly, Pistolis was not charged with assault, despite having reportedly bragged in an online chatroom about attacking a woman at the Aug. 12, 2017, “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. Pistolis’ unit announced that he was under investigation after ProPublica reported in May that he was a member of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group.
Emily F. Gorcenski told Task & Purpose that she is one of the protesters whom Pistolis assaulted her during the rally, but she was not told about his court-martial ahead of time.
“The Marine Corps have not contacted me regarding the issues of Pistolis or any of the other Marines identified by me as having been involved in Unite the Right,” Gorcenski told T&P; on Thursday. “I am unsure to what extent the Corps is delegating investigatory duties to civilian authorities, but I hope that the military would not punt on its duties to protect civilians from all threats, foreign and domestic.”
For Pistolis, what happens next will depend on what type of discharge the Marine Corps seeks for him.
With less than six years of experience, he can be administratively separated by the Corps with an honorable or general discharge and he would not have the right to appeal, said retired Marine Lt. Col. Guy Womack, a military defense attorney and legal expert based in Houston.
But if Pistolis’ command recommends that he receive an other than honorable discharge — which would also render him ineligible for most veterans’ befeits — Pistolis has an “absolute right” to demand an admin board, at which he could fight to stay in the Marine Corps or request a better discharge characterization, Womack told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
“It’s kind of like going to a jury trial,” Womack said. “It would be a panel of three officers who would look at why he is being discharged. It’s like a sentencing proceeding. They would know what he had been convicted of, see whatever evidence the government presents that makes him look bad. He would have an attorney with him – one or two – and he’d be able to present evidence on extenuation and mitigation, showing what a good guy he is and the circumstances were not as a bad as it sounds.”
It was not clear on Thursday whether Pistolis had reached a pre-trial agreement with prosecutors, under which he would face a summary court-martial in return for a general discharge.
Because Pistolis faced a summary court-martial, he will not have a criminal conviction on his record whenever he leaves the Marine Corps, Womack said.
Special courts-martial and general courts-martial are true criminal trials, while summary courts-martial are “glorified office hours,” under which service members can be sentenced to up to 30 days in the brig, he said.
“If he goes to apply for a gun permit, runs for public office, applies for a job; when they ask, ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime?’ the true answer is no, because he’s never had a criminal trial,” Womack said.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Karl Munson pilots a 26-foot boat while Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Diaz keeps an eye on a boarding team who is inspecting a 79-foot shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of New Orleans, La., on April 27, 2005
Radio transmissions to the U.S. Coast Guard are usually calls for help from boaters, but one captain got on the radio recently just to say thanks to the men and women who are currently working without pay.
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.
Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"
Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.
In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.