Once his eyes were opened and he later became committed as a "revolutionary socialist," it wasn't easy for Spenser Rapone—a West Point graduate—to maintain conformity with the ideological strictures most valued by the U.S. Army, among the numerous military branches tasked with acting as the muscle of U.S. imperalism and projecting strength on behalf of American capital and corporate interests abroad.
But committed he was and—nearly a year after he was famously photographed with the words "Communism Will Win" under his graduation cap—the trained soldier, a second lieutenant with the Army's 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum in New York state, tendered his resignation from the service on Monday after he was earlier reprimanded by higher-ups for "conduct unbecoming an officer."
Outside the base on Monday, he offered one final military-style gesture:
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Rapone first made headlines in 2017 after he posted pictures of himself at his West Point graduation wearing a t-shirt of the Cuban Revolution's famed Che Guevera under his uniform and the messge "Communism Will Win" inside his cap.
According to an interview with the Associated Press, Rapone seemed at ease with his decision to leave the U.S. military and called on other enlisted soldiers who feel like he does, to do the same.
"I consider myself a revolutionary socialist," the 26-year-old Rapone said. "I would encourage all soldiers who have a conscience to lay down their arms and join me and so many others who are willing to stop serving the agents of imperialism and join us in a revolutionary movement."
Prior to being accepted to West Point, Rapone enlisted in the Army after high school and served in Afghanistan. It was during his deployments there, he says, that he began to doubt his earlier assumptions about the roll the U.S. military was actually playing in the world.
"We were bullies in one of the poorest countries on Earth," Rapone told AP. "We have one of the most technologically advanced militaries of all time and all we were doing is brutalizing and invading and terrorizing a population that had nothing to do with what the United States claimed was a threat."
He explains he was further influenced by Marxist writings and reading more about other combat veterans who later spoke out about the evils of war and the influence of capitalism in generating them.
Now out of the military, Rapone did not seem upset and suggested gratitude for the support he's received since speaking out about his beliefs.
"I knew there could be repercussions," said Rapone, who AP reports is scheduled to speak at a socialism conference in Chicago next month. "Of course my military career is dead in the water. On the other hand, many people reached out and showed me support. There are a lot of veterans both active duty and not that feel like I do."