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Sen. Marco Rubio demanded that West Point revoke the commission of 2nd. Lt. Spenser Rapone in response to photos that have surfaced showing Rapone wearing pro-communist attire and messages underneath his graduation uniform. Rapone initially posted the photos to his Twitter account @punkproletarian “Commie Bebop” using the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, following the recent NFL protests.
On October 3rd, the Florida Senator wrote a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy that requested “the United States Army immediately nullify Rapone’s commission and pursue all available disciplinary options under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Rapone should be required to pay back in full the cost of his education, and the United States Military Academy should consider revoking his degree.”
Rapone is a former enlisted infantryman, having earned his 75th Ranger Regiment scroll in spring 2011 and deploying to Afghanistan with 1st Battalion that same year. Shortly after Rapone was “removed for standards” from the regiment, he was admitted to West Point where he graduated in 2016. He is currently serving as an infantry officer with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division out of Ft. Drum and is under investigation by his command following the incident.
In his letter, Sen. Rubio has demanded that the Army within 30 days release “all relevant information regarding West Point’s efforts to ensure cadets who actively support the destruction of our government do not waste more taxpayer funds or prevent a more worthy candidate from attending.”
“It is extremely concerning that someone who so often expressed such hostile views towards the United States’ system of government was able to obtain a commission,” expressed by Sen. Rubio. “(His) revolutionary ideas were harbored long before he was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant. Were West Point administrators or faculty aware of his views and behavior?”
West Point officials have stated Rapone’s actions “in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.” Additionally, former Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) who nominated Rapone for the academy stated “While I strongly support the rights of American citizens to express their opinions, the actions of 2nd Lieutenant Rapone are abhorrent and appear to be in clear violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in addition to being inconsistent with the values of the United States Military Academy. I have no doubt that the U.S. Army will take appropriate action.”
Military regulations prohibit soldiers from making political statements while in uniform. Sen. Rubio wrote that “Posts on social media by Rapone broadcast his devotion to the communist cause and his plans to infiltrate and sabotage the military.” Additionally, “His conduct, writings, and sympathies for American adversaries predate his commission in the Army.”
Rapone has since made his social media accounts private. His military awards include a Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one campaign star and the Combat Infantryman Badge.