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Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis – who reportedly belonged to a Neo-Nazi group and assaulted protesters while marching with white supremacists last year – has officially been kicked out of the Marine Corps.
Pistolis had been sentenced to 28 days’ confinement, reduction in rank to E-1, and forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month 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.
The ex-Marine was separated on July 11, the day he got out of the brig, said Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Brian Block.
“He is not a Marine anymore,” said Block, who was unable to say what type of discharge Pistolis received due to privacy act restrictions.
Pistolis had been assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 8, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
ProPublica reported in May that Pistolis was a member of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group, and had marched in the Aug. 12, 2017, “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. A news photographer captured a picture of Pistolis beating a protester with a wooden flagpole, and he reportedly bragged online about assaulting another protester, Emily F. Gorcenski.
When ProPublica tweeted on Wednesday that Pistolis had been separated, Gorcenski responded by tweeting: “Bye Nazi.”
The Marine Corps makes clear that any Marines will be separated if the Corps confirms that they are members of or associated with any hate groups. Two Camp Lejeune Marines, Sgt. Michael Chesny and Staff Sgt. Joseph Manning, were separated after being arrested in May 2017 for flying a white supremacist banner at a pro-Confederate rally in North Carolina.
Former Marine recruiter Dillon Ulysses Hopper is reportedly the leader of the white supremacist group Vanguard America. And James Alex Fields Jr., who only spent four months with the Army before being kicked out, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing a woman at the Unite the Right rally by ramming his car into a crowd of protesters.
“We are seeing more cases involving hate groups,” said Daniel Conway, a former Marine captain who is now a civilian attorney who represents service members. “I don't think there's an organized presence. But social media allows impressionable young men to associate with various groups that advocate divisive and hateful messages. Some of the groups operate under the veil of veterans organizations.”
Regardless of the causes, he added, hate group activity in the services is “a growing problem.”
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.
The Air Force is investigating whether an airman smoked weed at a missile alert facility for nuclear Minuteman ICBMs
The Air Force is investigating reports that an airman consumed marijuana while assigned to one of the highly-sensitive missile alert facility (MAF) responsible for overseeing Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.