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Report: West Point Professor Found Communist Officer's Social Media Posts 'Extremely Disturbing'
A Fort Drum officer whose pro-communist and anti-Trump social media posts have spurred outrage and an Army investigation apparently raised concerns among his superiors in 2015 while studying at West Point.
In documents obtained by the Daily Caller, Lt. Col. Robert M. Heffington, a professor at West Point, said he found the social media posts by 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone, then a cadet, “extremely disturbing.” He noted at the time that one of Rapone’s posts said “(Expletive) this country and its fake freedom,” and others praised communism, Marxism and Karl Marx.
“I cannot reconcile the image of a first class cadet at West Point with the things he has posted online for the world to see,” the lieutenant colonel said in a sworn statement. “To me, these are red flags that cannot be ignored, and I fail to see how this individual can possibly graduate and become a commissioned officer in six months.”
Lt. Rapone is currently under investigation by post officials, and his social media posts, including those made while wearing his West Point uniform, were condemned by the academy.
Col. Heffington’s statement from November 2015 also said Lt. Rapone showed “extreme disrespect” to him when confronted about the volume of a conversation he had with a professor and refused corrections on standards like getting a haircut.
“His utter contempt for my rank and position as an Army officer was blatantly obvious and, to me, it indicates that CDT Rapone has a serious problem with military authority figures.”
He later said Rapone’s social media posts at best “reveal the philosophical infatuations of a precocious adolescent,” and at worst “a severe mental or psychological disorder” or values “at odds” with West Point and the Army.
“He may at some point grow out of this phase, but the Army does not have the luxury of allowing him the opportunity to sort out his beliefs while charged with the sacred duty of leading American Soldiers,” Col. Heffington said.
Lt. Rapone, a member of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, first drew attention when he tweeted an image from his Twitter account, @punkproletarian, with “Communism Will Win” written into his West Point cadet hat.
Other online statements by the lieutenant criticized President Trump and members of his administration.
If taken to a court martial, Lt. Rapone could face confinement for violating multiple parts of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called for Lt. Rapone’s dismissal, a call backed by Rep. Elise M. Stefanik.
The full Daily Caller report can be found at http://wdt.me/westpoint-rapone.
©2017 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.
On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.
Fatal training accidents are on the rise. Now the families of the fallen are pushing lawmakers to do something about it
CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.
Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.
Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.
Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.
"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."
While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.
"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."
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The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.
Customs and Border Patrol denied a Marine vet entry into the US for his a scheduled citizenship interview
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Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.