Two active-duty Marines stationed in North Carolina are back at their duty stations after reportedly being arrested for trespassing at a pro-Confederate rally and allegedly unfurling a banner with a slogan used by white nationalists, Corps officials said.
Sgt. Michael Chesny is an explosive ordnance disposal technician based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Staff Sgt. Joseph Manning is stationed at the Marine Corps Engineer School at Camp Lejeune, according to officials.
The Times-News first reported on Saturday that the two Marines were arrested on May 20 after allegedly climbing a building and unfurling a banner with a quote from George Orwell's novel "1984" and the letters "YWNRU," which reportedly stand for "You will not replace us," a slogan associated with the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. The two Marines were released later that day on $1,500 bond.
The incident occurred in Graham, North Carolina, about 175 miles inland from Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune. The two Marine NCOs allegedly hung the banner on a building on the town's main street before a local "Confederate Memorial Day rally," the newspaper reported.
Chesny's command is looking into the matter to determine whether any action is warranted, said Mike Barton, a spokesman for Cherry Point.
"Once the investigation is complete, the commanding officer's action can range from taking no action and letting the civilian authorities prosecute the case, to administrative actions such as formal admonishment, non-judicial punishment or administrative separation from the service," Barton said. "The commanding officer may refer the case to a court martial if the investigation determines the misconduct was serious enough to warrant a prosecution of crimes not already handled through the Alamance County criminal court."
Manning's command is working with civil authorities on the matter and has not decided whether to take any disciplinary action against him, said Capt. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for Training and Education Command.
A combat veteran, Manning joined the Marine Corps in June 2002, Pena said. His military awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Information about Chesny's awards was not immediately available on Tuesday.
Since joining the Marine Corps in 2007, Chesny has deployed to Afghanistan once and made two other deployments with Marine expeditionary units, Barton said. His military decorations include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan and three Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals.