The top officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have issued statements denouncing racism and extremism in the days since white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson was the first to post a statement Saturday night, hours after the bloody clashes that led to the death of a counter-protester.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller followed Tuesday night, tweeting that there is ”no place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC.”
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein tweeted their own statements Wednesday morning.
A former Marine recruiter, Dillon Ulysses Hopper, has been identified as the leader of a white nationalist group that was one of the organizations taking part in the ”Unite the Right” rally.
James Alex Fields Jr. was arrested after allegedly killing a woman by ramming a car into counter-protesters.
Fields began Army basic training in August 2015 but was released from active-duty four months later for “failure to meet training standards,” officials said.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the duration of Field’s time in the Army raised some red flags.
“I don’t know the circumstances around this young man’s four months,” Mattis said. “But, generally speaking, you know we don’t sign people up for four-month tours of duty. So once the full reality is out, I’m sure you’ll have an explanation how he came in and out.”
Overall, Mattis said he was “saddened” by the events in Charlottesville.
“I was saddened by it, very saddened about what I saw.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.