Four more members of the United States armed forces are now under investigation for their ties to a white nationalist group, military officials have confirmed to HuffPost.
A lance corporal in the Marines, a master sergeant in the Air Force, a specialist in the Army, and a private in the Minnesota National Guard have been identified as belonging to Identity Evropa, an organization listed by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist group.
There are now a total of 11 Identity Evropa members known to be under investigation by the U.S. military. Last month, HuffPost found seven other U.S. servicemen were being investigated over their connections to the group.
The investigations, which could last for months, are looking into whether the 11 servicemen violated military rules regarding discrimination and extremist activity. All 11 could face expulsion from the armed services, or even be court martialed and potentially sentenced to time in prison.
Members of Identity Evropa, like many other white nationalist groups, have long used the messaging platform Discord to chat with one another. Last month the independent media collective Unicorn Riot obtained Identity Evropa’s Discord messages and published them online.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW POLITICS
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more
Since then a network of anonymous anti-fascist activists have mined those messages for clues as to the offline identities of the Identity Evropa members, most of whom posted on Discord under fake names. Among those exposed by anti-fascist activists are cops, teachers, a lawyer and members of the U.S. military.
HuffPost has verified the identities of the four servicemen exposed in this report. The Discord messages they posted show a U.S. Marine, an airman, a soldier and a National Guardsman all fluent in white nationalist memes and jargon. All four also participated in Identity Evropa events and propaganda campaigns.
Identity Evropa was founded by an ex-Marine named Nathan Damigo, who served in the Iraq War. After returning to the U.S., Damigo robbed a cab driver, whom he mistook for being Iraqi, at gunpoint. He spent four years in prison — where he was further radicalized after reading a book by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke — and formed Identity Evropa upon his release.
The group’s members helped organize the violent and deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the group has been busy ever since attempting to recruit new members, particularly on college campuses.
The new revelations offer further proof that the U.S. military has struggled to keep extremists out of its own ranks.
Just this past February, federal authorities arrested Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson, who prosecutors allege corresponded with an unnamed white nationalist leader as he stockpiled firearms and compiled a hitlist of leftists and media figures he planned to kill as part of a plot to establish a “white homeland.”
In January, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran named Curtis Allen was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for his part in a bomb plot targeting Muslims in Kansas. Allen belonged to an anti-Muslim militia group called “The Crusaders.”
Last year 22-year-old Brandon Russell — a Florida National Guard soldier and a leader of a murderous neo-Nazi group called The Atomwaffen Division — was sentenced to five years in prison after authorities discovered explosive materials in his garage. (They also discovered a framed photo of Timothy McVeigh in Russell’s bedroom. McVeigh, a U.S. Army veteran, was executed for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people.)
Ed Beck is a former Marine and Iraq War veteran who in recent years has worked to expose fascists in the ranks of the U.S. military. He says the military needs a better screening process for recruits. Many of the 11 Identity Evropa members in the military were “open about their beliefs on social media.”
“A brief, even semi-educated investigation would’ve been enough to raise suspicions and bar them,” Beck said. “These repeated failures should make everyone deeply skeptical of the military’s stated attitude toward white power and right-wing extremism.”
Still, the problem of white nationalists in the military is much larger than the 11 Identity Evropa members identified over the past month. A Military Times poll in 2017 found that nearly 25 percent of service members have encountered white nationalists within their ranks. An FBI report on extremism in the military, which analyzed case files from 2001 to 2008, found over 200 military personnel or veterans who were active members in white supremacist groups.
“At a certain point we have to realize we’re swatting at flies, and ask ourselves what’s rotting — why are so many white power extremists drawn to this particular institution?” Beck, the former Marine, told HuffPost. “The military (and law enforcement) attracts right-wing extremists and white supremacists because of its function and history — what it has done, what it still does, and what it subsequently means in American society.”
Here are four U.S. servicemen in Identity Evropa, which recently rebranded itself as the American Identity Movement.
Logan K. Piercy is a lance corporal in Alpha Co, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, in the Select Marine Forces Reserve, a spokesman for the military branch confirmed to HuffPost.
In the Identity Evropa Discord server, he goes by the username “Logan,” often posting photos of himself participating in the white nationalist group’s events, including a Memorial Day outing to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego; a day cleaning up trash on a Southern California beach, and a hike to San Diego’s Potato Chip Rock.
“Logan” can also be seen in Facebook photos posted by Logan K. Piercy’s family members.
In Discord, Piercy often posted photos of Identity Evropa flyers he placed on college campuses throughout southern California, including at the University of California at San Diego, where public records show Piercy enrolled.
He also posted links to blogs he wrote on a since-deleted website called EcoAmerican.us. Records show that website was registered to Piercy.
Piercy can be seen in the Discord messages arranging for people to join Identity Evropa and pay their membership dues. “Being aware that Jews are not White is still required for IE membership at the interview level,” he wrote in February.
His Discord messages are anti-Semitic and racist, and he appears to have a particular admiration for Andrew Anglin, the fugitive neo-Nazi behind the website The Daily Stormer, which advocates gassing Jews.
Piercy also posted in a separate Discord server called “Charlottesville.2.0” — also obtained by Unicorn Riot — where white supremacists planned the deadly 2017 Unite The Right rally. A month before the rally, Piercy posted a photo of Adolf Hitler. “REMOVE KIKE,” he wrote above the photo, using the common slur for Jewish people.
The Discord logs show that Piercy attended Unite The Right, and he can be seen in photos from the event, which ended with a fellow neo-Nazi driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Piercy, who the Discord messages show has recently moved to Montana, did not respond to request for comment as to the ongoing military investigation into his membership in Identity Evropa.
“The Marine Corps is aware of the allegations surrounding Lance Corporal Piercy’s alleged participation in the group,” Col. Theodore Wong, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, told HuffPost in a statement. “There is no place for racial hatred or extremism in the Marine Corps.”
“The Marine Corps will investigate the allegations and take the appropriate disciplinary actions if warranted,” Wong said.
A Master Sergeant In The Air Force
Earlier this month, a group of anti-fascist activists called Colorado Springs Antifa — working with an Oregon based group called Eugene Antifa — published a report exposing Air Force Master Sergeant Cory Allen Reeves as a member of Identity Evropa.
The Air Force confirmed to HuffPost that Reeves is a master sergeant. He’s stationed at Schriever Air Force Base near Colorado Springs.
“We are aware of this allegation and Air Force officials are looking into it,” an Air Force spokesman told HuffPost.
Reeves posted under the name “Argument of Perigree” in the Discord server, often sharing photos of himself.
One photo — a selfie in which Reeve’s face is clearly visible — matches a 2016 photo of Reeves printed in a military newspaper. The selfie also matches footage of Reeves talking to a local TV station in Hawaii, where he was previously stationed for the Air Force.
Reeves appears to have been an extremely active member of Identity Evropa, often encouraging members on Discord to pay more than their $10 monthly membership dues, and traveling to far-away Identity Evropa events in New York and Nashville.
He was also a prolific propagandist. Reeves frequently posted photos of the Identity Evropa flyers he’d placed throughout Colorado.
In one series of photos, he documented his trip to the Aurora Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center & Detention Facility in Aurora, Colorado — a jail for immigrants.
“IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT,” read one Identity Evropa flyer Reeves placed outside the facility, featuring an image of a little blonde girl. “THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO FOR OUR COUNTRY.”
After reaching out to Reeves for comment, HuffPost received an email from his lawyer, Andy Gene Strickland, a Florida man who was also recently exposed as a member of Identity Evropa.
“MSgt Cory Reeves is a highly decorated Airman with fifteen years of service to our country,” Strickland’s email read. “I respectfully submit that creating a news article based on an anonymous social media post generated by nameless and faceless individuals who, by their own admission, are anarchists is extremely careless.”
Strickland’s email did not deny that Reeves was part of Identity Evropa.
Reeves, Strickland wrote, is “free to join a responsible and professional organization” without “fear or reprisal by Department of Defense officials.”
The Minnesota National Guardsman
In Identity Evropa’s Discord group, a user named “Hyphenstein” posted only 30 times. He shared photos of the group’s flyers he’d placed on the University of Minnesota campus, mentioned paying his membership dues and discussed getting ready for boot camp.
“Last day in Minnesota before army basic training,” Hyphenstein wrote in a February post. “Wish I could have made it to [Identity Evropa’s Leading Our People Forward conference]. Looks like a lot of fun!”
A search for the username “Hyphenstein” elsewhere online revealed clues as to this Identity Evropa member’s true identity.
A “Hyphenstein” on Steam — a video game app frequently used by white supremacists to communicate with each other — listed his name as Andrew James Schmidt and his home as Minnesota. Schmidt used a photo of Reinhard Heydrich as his profile photo on Steam. Heydrich was a high-ranking Nazi figure during World War II and a main architect of the Holocaust.
A user on the website NoFap, which helps people with porn addiction, is also named “Hyphenstein.” That user lists his birthday as being in August of 1999 — the same month and year that Andrew James Schmidt was born.
A “Hyphenstein” on Instagram listed his name as James, and a “Hyphenstein” on Twitter listed his name as James Schmidt.
In the Discord logs, Hyphenstein mentions that he will be bumped up to rank E-3/Private First Class immediately at boot camp.
Schmidt can be seen in photos on basictrainingphotos.com in uniform with the rank of E-3 Private First Class.
After HuffPost emailed the Minnesota National Guard with this evidence that one of their recent recruits is a white nationalist, a spokesman said Schmidt had been removed from basic training.
“Private Andrew James Schmidt has been recalled from initial basic training and will drill individually until resolution of an investigation into his actions and affiliations is completed,” Major Scott Hawks told HuffPost.
HuffPost could not reach Schmidt for comment. Messages left with his family went unanswered.
The Army Soldier
Earlier this month, an anonymous group of anti-fascist activists in the Pacific Northwest — who operate the Twitter account @WANaziWatch — posted compelling evidence that an Army soldier named Jonathan Gould is a member of Identity Evropa.
Gould, they said, posted in the Discord logs under the name “Lonewolf19d.” The activists determined this by connecting biographical information Gould posted in Discord to information posted on the neo-Nazi message board Stormfront, also under the name “Lonewolf19d.” (Stormfront is one of the largest, and darkest, platforms for Nazis in the country. One report connected Stormfront users to nearly 100 murders from 2009 to 2014.)
Public records show Gould has lived in both Washington and Ohio. On Discord, he posted multiple photos of Identity Evropa propaganda he’d placed in those states.
He also discussed his time in the military. “... during a range brief in the army an NCO used the saying ‘being Jewish’ when referring to being stingy... I had to stop myself from LOL’ing,” Gould wrote in a post.
In October 2017, Gould posted a new piece of propaganda he’d created. “Don’t kno [sic] if this is the right place for this, but a little photoshopping i did,” he wrote in Discord.
His creation was a take on the Army’s famous Uncle Sam recruitment poster. But whereas the original World War II poster stated “I want YOU for the U.S. Army,” Gould’s photoshop changed the message to “I want YOU to be a white advocate.”
An Army spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost that Gould is a specialist, rank E-4 junior in the Army. A military official confirmed to HuffPost that Gould is currently under investigation for his ties to Identity Evropa.
Gould did not respond to a request for comment.