The Army lieutenant who posted a video on social media of himself joking about Jewish people sent to Nazi ovens during the Holocaust is about to be kicked out of the Army, an official from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, confirmed.
In August, the XVIII Airborne Corps launched a 15-6 fact-finding investigation on 2nd Lt. Nathan Freihofer, a popular TikTok influencer with millions of followers, after one of his videos showed him in civilian clothes in front of a mirror telling the offensive joke and appearing to render a Nazi salute.
The investigation that followed ended with Freihofer's commander recommending, "let's reprimand and retain" him in the Army, XVIII Airborne spokesman Col. Joe Buccino told Military.com.
Lt. Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla, commander of the XVIII Airborne, disagreed, saying that his behavior was inconsistent with Army values, especially for a soldier who serves in a leadership position, according to Buccino said. He added that Kurilla "made the decision not to retain."
Freihofer, an artillery officer who has 3.8 million followers on TikTok, had been under investigation for months and was removed from his leadership position in the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, in August, The Washington Post reported.
"He's not leading troops; he was moved to a non-leadership type position," Buccino told Military.com.
The decision is not final yet, however. Freihofer has been given time to prepare an argument in his favor, which he is scheduled to present in the next two weeks, Buccino said.
If Kurilla decides Freihofer should leave the Army, it's still unclear when that will occur since the case will have to go up to the Army staff level for processing.
The Army's senior leadership launched efforts to root out racism and extremism in the ranks after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police. The incident touched off protests against racism across the country.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.