West Point grad's postings being probed

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) — U.S. military officials are investigating a recent West Point graduate who posted photos of himself at his graduation with pro-communist messages under his uniform, including a red Che Guevara T-shirt.

The 10th Mountain Division said Tuesday that Army officials at Fort Drum in northern New York are aware of 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone’s alleged actions and are “looking into the matter.”

A photo posted on Twitter this week by Rapone shows him at his U.S. Military Academy graduation in May 2016 with a handwritten message under his uniform cap stating, “Communism will win.” Another Twitter photo shows Rapone holding open the tunic of his graduation day uniform to reveal a Che Guevara T-shirt while standing on the football field where the graduation ceremony was held.

Fort Drum said “the Army has strict rules regarding the wear and appearance of Army uniforms.”

Officials at West Point also issued a statement Tuesday, saying Rapone’s actions “in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.”

Rapone was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division as an infantry officer after graduating from West Point in May 2016. Normally a soldier’s hometown is releasable information, but Fort Drum’s Lt. Col. Tonya Stokes said Wednesday that it was being withheld for the safety of Rapone and his family. Officials didn’t respond to a request to make Rapone available for comment.

While military officials support freedom of speech for soldiers, the Pentagon draws the line at political statements made while in uniform.

“The 10th Mountain Division not only supports free speech, it trains every day to ensure our nation has the ability to protect it at all cost,” Stokes told the Army Times “That being said, when our soldiers are in uniform, politics must be set aside. Our uniform represents every corner of our nation and it cannot be used to promote any single ideology.”

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