Navy boots sailor who allegedly served as recruiter for neo-Nazi group

A Navy spokesman declined to say if the sailor was separated specifically because of the investigation's findings

A sailor who was investigated for allegedly serving as a recruiter for a neo-Nazi group has been administratively separated from the Navy, said Cmdr. Ron Flanders, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces.

David Cole Tarkington had been assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-41 at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California, Flanders told Task & Purpose on Friday.

Gizmodo reporters Tom McKay and Dhruv Mehrotra first brought to light in March that Tarkington was allegedly a prolific recruiter for Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-Nazi organization.

Tarkington allegedly posted frequently on the now-defunct Iron March online forum, which was a hotbed of neo-Nazi activity until it was deactivated in November 2017, according to Gizmodo.

One of the Atomwaffen Division members whom Tarkington allegedly recruited was John Cameron Denton, who was arrested in February for allegedly targeting journalists, Gizmodo reported.

The Navy launched an investigation into Tarkington after the Gizmodo story ran on March 12, Flanders said. No information about the investigation was immediately available.

Flanders said he was unable to say whether Tarkington was separated specifically because of the investigation, which is now complete.

“His separation was administrative in nature, and I am not able to go into details,” Flanders said.

Tarkington joined the Navy in July 2019 and arrived at Naval Air Station Lemoore that December, according to his official biography, which does not include any military awards or decorations. He became an aviation machinist’s mate airman apprentice (E-2) and left the Navy at that rank.

Gizmodo was first to report on Friday that the Navy had removed Tarkington.

Jeff Schogol
Jeff Schogol

is the senior Pentagon reporter for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 15 years. You can email him at schogol@taskandpurpose.com, direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter, or reach him on WhatsApp and Signal at 703-909-6488. Contact the author here.

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