Discharge proceedings are now pending for Tech. Sgt. Cory Reeves, the airman who lost a stripe after an investigation into his alleged ties to a white nationalist group.
In an email Tuesday, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Reeves, who was demoted from his previous rank of master sergeant on Sept. 11, is entitled to a board hearing, as regulations on administrative separations require.
“The Air Force is committed to maintaining a culture where all airmen feel welcome and can thrive, will hold airmen accountable when misconduct is alleged, and will ensure airmen alleged to have committed misconduct receive their due process rights afforded by law and regulations,” Stefanek said. “The Air Force will make no further comment concerning pending administrative actions in this matter until they are completed.”
Reeves, who is assigned to the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was accused by a local anti-fascist group of being a member and organizer of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. In a post online in April, Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists also alleged Reeves distributed white supremacist propaganda in Colorado several times, and was a “patron” member who contributed more monthly dues than regular members pay. The post also included photographs, allegedly of Reeves, wearing clothes with Identity Evropa’s logo and taking part in one of its protests.
The Anti-Defamation League classifies Identity Evropa as a white supremacist group that focuses on preserving “white American identity” and claims America was not intended to be a multiracial or multicultural society.
Air Force regulations prohibit membership in supremacist groups, and airmen who participate in such groups are subject to adverse actions. When asked about Reeves’ alleged activities in April, the Air Force pointed to Air Force Instruction 51-508, which bars airmen from “actively advocating supremacist, extremist or criminal gang doctrine, ideology or causes, including those that advance, encourage or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity or national origin or those that advance, encourage or advocate the use of force, violence or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.”
After the post that accused Reeves of involvement with Identity Evropa, the Air Force launched an investigation. Stefanek said in August that the investigation was complete, and Reeves’ commander was taking the appropriate action.
When the anti-fascist group posted about him, Reeves was an operations superintendent in the 1C6 space systems operations career field in Schriever’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron. He entered active duty in November 2003, according to the Air Force Personnel Center.
In recent years, concerns have grown about the possibility of white supremacist ideology spreading in the military. Online activists in November released a database for the neo-Nazi forum Iron March, including discussions involving purported service members and some who expressed their wish to join the military. Iron March is the organizational birthplace of Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-Nazi organization in America some view as a domestic terrorist group.
And a Military Times poll in fall 2018 found an increasing percentage of non-white service members reported signs of white nationalism or racism, growing from 42 percent in 2017 to more than half the following year.
Most recently, officials from West Point and the Naval Academy in Annapolis began investigating cadets from both academies who flashed hand signs, which some associate with “white power” messages, on television during Saturday’s Army-Navy football game.
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.