By Eric Dehm
The Army Infantry Officer and West Point grad under investigation for praising communism in uniform, was “removed for standards” from the 1st Ranger Battalion as an enlisted man prior to his acceptance to West Point, ConnectingVets.com has learned.
Lt. Col Matthew Bockholt, director of public affairs for U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) confirmed that Army 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone was “RFS.”
What this means: Released for standards (RFS) means a soldier is kicked out of the Battalion. A source in the Ranger Regiment veteran community tells ConnectingVets a Battalion member RFS means that the individual “no longer meets all standards as outlined in the Ranger Standards ‘Blue Book.’ The most common reason for this is failure to complete required training, but it could happen for a variety of reasons.”
What we don’t know: The “why.” SOCOM does not release personal information on Special Operations Forces personnel. However, according to the same source, it is unlikely it was for serious misconduct as Rapone was allowed to remain in service in the U.S. Army.
Also unknown is why he was accepted to West Point after essentially failing out of the elite Ranger unit. The Ranger vet source says one possibility is “If he was released for something not involving serious misconduct, which seems likely as he was allowed to stay in the Army, it probably wouldn’t have been added into his record as it is something specific to Ranger units. So West Point, or his next command, may not have known.”
In a separate development, Rapone’s father, Lawrence County (PA) Treasurer Richard L. Rapone denounced his son’s views and actions in the Facebook post below, before deleting his account entirely.
Rapone is currently assigned to 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, NY. He is also a graduate of the US Military Academy and a former member of the Army’s storied 1st Ranger Battalion.
He is currently under investigation after he tweeted a picture of himself with “communism will win” written inside of his cadet cover, while also giving a closed-fist salute with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick. It’s just one of several political statements he’s espoused over social media under the handle @punkproletarian.
Rapone may have been motivated by Chelsea Manning to infiltrate the Army with his communist views. Rapone’s Reddit account describes Manning’s “courage and tenacity” giving him “strength” to espouse his beliefs in the military. Manning is the former Army private who was convicted of espionage for leaking classified information, was sentenced, then had their sentence commuted by President Obama.
Supporting a political ideology while in the service is not prohibited, although doing it in uniform amounts to a uniform violation at the very least.