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Conduct Unbecoming



I spent 10 years of my life as a US military officer in both the Air Force and the Army. I served a tour in Afghanistan as the commander of a forward surgical team (basically a modern-day MASH unit). As a member of the military, and especially as a commissioned officer, it was not my place to publicly criticize those in my chain of command, including my Commander-in-Chief, the Secretary of Defense, or anyone else in political authority, no matter my personal feelings.

Newly minted 2LT Spenser Rapone’s recent conduct on social media and at graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point is a clear violation of more than one article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and his career is just a few months old.

Rapone wore a Che Guevara t-shirt under his cadet uniform, and expressed support for Colin Kaepernick and Communism. None of these actions, in and of themselves are cause for dismissal. However, expressing support for Kaepernick who is supposedly protesting the treatment of blacks in America while supporting Communist Guevara who believed blacks were inferior is ironic.

Where the young lieutenant went wrong was when he disrespected his uniform by displaying that undershirt, and more importantly showing blatant disrespect toward the Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump, and the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis.

These tweets from this account that have been identified as Rapone’s are a clear violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ, and should land 2LT Rapone’s with a dismissal from the service at a minimum. He can then go on to a very successful career teaching social justice studies at UC Berkeley wherever I’m certain he’ll be given tenure in no time.

I didn’t like Barack Obama. He was unfit to be Commander-in-Chief, as is Donald Trump. When I was a military officer I couldn’t publicly say so. Doing so could have meant my commission, as it should have.

Saying other things that weren’t prohibited, that were TRUE, but didn’t fit a politically correct narrative, eventually did cause me to resign my commission, and I have no regrets about that. Perhaps 2LT Rapone won’t have any regrets either, but make no mistake, unlike my statements, which were designed to save the lives of the trainees I was teaching, his statements are strictly prohibited and have been for decades. If he had said these things about Barack Obama during Obama’s presidency, my stance would be exactly the same.

West Point Alumnus Holding A Pro-Colin Kaepernick “Communism Will Win” Sign While In Uniform | Terresa Monroe-Hamilton,, the hundreds of tweets this asshat has put out are being scrutinized. He obviously is enamored with Democratic Socialists of America. Pro Tip: Communism is a political theory penned by Karl Marx that advocates class war and a society where the lower class would revolt and take down the upper class, destroying capitalism and bringing about socioeconomic emancipation where all property is publicly owned and people are paid based on their skills and needs. Rapone tweeted: “In case there was any lingering doubt, hasta la victoria siempre,” which means “until victory, always,” and are lyrics to a song that became famous after Guevara’s death in 1967.

Military members can be politically active, but there are certain important restrictions. You can’t publicly disrespect the current chain of command, and you can’t use your position as a member of the military to endorse a candidate. You can’t campaign in uniform.

I remember back in 2012 during the GOP Presidential Primaries when Ron Paul had a National Guardsman get up on stage with him in uniform at a rally after one of the early primaries. I looked at my then-wife and said “well… he’s dead meat.” I was still on active duty at that time and explained that if I was this young Soldier’s commanding officer he would have been excoriated on Monday morning.

No one thought that the military was going to pull of a coup to install Ron Paul as President if he did not win, but what if a 3-star general who was commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps did it? You can’t cross that line so you just make it the same for everyone. As a former military officer himself, Congressman Paul should have known better, but as part of the nut-job wing of the libertarian movement he probably didn’t care.


West Point responds to tweets of cadet with Che Guevara tee under uniform“Second Lieutenant Rapone‘s actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army,” the statement from West Point said.

“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,” Lt. Col. Tonya Stokes said. “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.”

Army Opens Query Into Communist Graduate | The Daily Caller U.S. Army has opened an investigation into West Point graduate Second Lieutenant Spenser Rapone for appearing to openly advocate for communism on social media.

“The U.S. Military Academy strives to develop leaders who internalize the academy’s motto of Duty, Honor, Country, and who live the Army values,” West Point said in a statement released Tuesday. “Second Lieutenant Rapone’s actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army. As figures of public trust, members of the military must exhibit exemplary conduct, and are prohibited from engaging in certain expressions of political speech in uniform. Second Lieutenant Rapone’s chain of command is aware of his actions and is looking into the matter. The academy is prepared to assist the officer’s chain of command as required.”

Former Legislator Disavows Spenser Rapone | The Daily Caller Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Rapone’s long history of extremist tweets, which include calling Mattis an “evil, vile f****,” is shocking, disappointing and abhorrent.

“Several years ago, I met Spenser Rapone when he was a high school student seeking an appointment to West Point,” Altmire said. “At the time, he was an outstanding, well-rounded student who came from a good family. I have not been in touch with him in the years since the appointment, and I was shocked and extremely disappointed in the recent reports of his indefensible actions.”

Final Thoughts

2LT Rapone is free to embrace an ideology that stands opposed to everything he is sworn to protect and defend, however silly that may be. He is not allowed to have his beliefs override his duties as an officer. He is guilty not only of Article 88 of the UCMJ, but in my opinion, also of Article 133 Conduct Unbecoming an Officer, and because he has apparently advocated violence against his political foes, among which he counts the current administration, Article 94 Mutiny or Sedition.

He should be investigated and dismissed from the service, with a dishonorable characterization of service, at a minimum. Prison time would also not be out of order to make it clear that this kind of behavior should not be tolerated from the military, particularly its officers. It won’t hurt him in his future job market as a liberal activist professor, but it’s still the right thing to do.


Benjamin Wilhelm served as a commissioned officer in the United States military for 10 years, serving one combat tour in Afghanistan. He is a recipient of the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge among other military awards. Ben has worked in a variety of private sector businesses both large and small. He is a former military and civilian firearms instructor and an advocate for veterans issues. Ben is a strict Constitutionalist who sees the Federal government as an out of control leviathan, and the federal debt as a burden that will break the country. Ben is a divorced father of two boys.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ed

    September 27, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    As a West Point Alumni, I agree with you 1000 %.

    Well said.

    Thank you for saying this in print and in public. It desperately needed to be said.

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