Since photos surfaced in late September of a now-second lieutenant sporting a Che Guevara T-shirt under his uniform at West Point’s 2016 graduation and commissioning ceremony, West Point and the Army have drawn the ire of everyone from active-duty soldiers to a Florida senator.
On Wednesday, West Point superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen responded to the outrage in a letter addressed to the men and women of the U.S. Military Academy.
“I ask that you help me prevent the negativity associated with the alleged behavior of one graduate from causing us to lose sight of the thousands of graduates who sacrifice and serve honorably every day,” he wrote.
Second Lt. Spenser Rapone, who is assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, is under investigation for his subversive political views by both his unit and West Point.
USMA’s investigation is focusing on “policies and procedures as they pertain to then-Cadet Rapone’s time at USMA, and USMA’s determination of his suitability for graduation and commissioning,” Caslen wrote.
The superintendent’s letter came the same day as another letter, from a retired lieutenant colonel and former West Point professor, made its way onto the Internet. Robert Heffington accused West Point of loose standards and a lack of discipline or honor.
“I do not take these allegations lightly and will provide you a response with facts addressing his allegations and then you can judge for yourself whether our graduates are serving our Nation with character imbued with values of Duty, Honor and Country, or not,” Caslen wrote.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.