Man charged in Charlottesville attack failed training at Fort Benning

This Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 photo shows James Alex Fields Jr., at a rally in Charlottesville, Va. Fields was later charged with second-degree murder and other counts after authorities say he plowed a car into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally.


By CHUCK WILLIAMS | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer | Published: August 14, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ga. (Tribune News Service) — The man charged with driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters during a rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, received military training at Fort Benning in 2015, U.S. Army officials confirmed Monday.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was arrested Saturday during a white nationalist protest rally over the removal of a Confederate monument. The car he was allegedly driving backed through a crowd of counter-protesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in the crash and several others were injured.

“The Army can confirm that James Alex Fields reported for basic military training in August of 2015,” the Army said in a statement. An Army official later confirmed that he reported to the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning.

He was released four months later, Army officials stated.

“He was, however, released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015,” the statement read. “As a result he was never awarded a military occupational skill nor was he assigned to a unit outside of basic training.”

The Army did not elaborate on which standards Fields failed to meet.

In fiscal year 2015, according to the Army, 6,227 individuals started basic combat training at Fort Benning and 5,855 graduated from the course.

It was not clear if Fields recycled or had to repeat the training while he was at Fort Benning.

Some of the reasons the Army could have released Fields are failure to qualify with his weapon, failure to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, or he could have been unsuitable for military service.

Fields grew up in Florence, Ky., but was living in Maumee, Ohio, at the time of his arrest.

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