December 21st, 2011
01:07 PM ET

8 soldiers charged in death of fellow serviceman

Eight U.S. soldiers have been charged in connection with the October death of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan, the Army said Wednesday.

Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, was found dead in a guard tower, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Chen's family says that until they see the autopsy results themselves, they cannot confirm or deny it was suicide.
The eight officers and enlisted servicemen face various charges, including dereliction of duty, making false statements, maltreatment and involuntary manslaughter, the Army said in a statement.

The Army did not specify what alleged acts by the soldiers resulted in the charges, which were filed Wednesday. But in correspondence with his family before his death, Chen complained of harassment by his fellow soldiers.
At a candlelight vigil for Chen held in Manhattan last week, his brother, Banny Chen, read from a letter the soldier had sent to his family.

"They ask if I'm from China a few times a day. They also called out my name, 'Chen,' in a goat-like voice sometimes for no reason. No idea how it started, but it's just best to ignore it."

The Chen family told The New York Times in October that officials said that Chen had suffered physical abuse and ethnic slurs by superiors, including an incident in which he was dragged out of bed and across the floor for failing to turn off a water heater after showering.

In its announcement, the Army makes no mention of the harassment allegations, but states, "As the legal process continues, further information will be published as it becomes available."
The charges stem from "conduct that occurred in the time leading up to (Chen's) death," an Army official familiar with details of the investigation told CNN. He declined to be identified because the military criminal investigation remains ongoing.

The Army official said the soldiers are essentially charged with hazing and abusing Chen in the weeks and days before he apparently killed himself. But the case remains open and other charges could be filed, the official said. The soldiers facing charges were identified as 1st Lt. Daniel J. Schwartz, Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas, Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Van Bockel, Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, Sgt. Jeffrey T. Hurst, Spc. Thomas P. Curtis, Spc. Ryan J. Offutt and Sgt. Travis F. Carden.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Tcr c2

    @semper apperciate you comment it was utterly distastefull for some one to make such a comment thank you for sticking up for chin even though he should not of been in the service.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Vicks

    @gung hoe:
    That would be Chinaman's post.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. JPH

    I was in the army for 5 years, and, unfortunately, this kind of stuff does happen. One of the guys in my unit in Afghanistan killed himself because he was being bullied all the time by his fellow soldiers. If you don't fit into their idea of what a soldier is supposed to be like, you get picked on, and it can become overwhelming, especially overseas.
    I don't know what exactly happened in this particular case, but it's pretty deplorable in any event. I am proud of my service, and everything, but this kind of stuff needs to stop.

    December 22, 2011 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mitchell Valdez

    In the movie "A Few Good Men", The Commanding Officer had to answer for allowing bullying in his unit. ( ie.. Code Red) but this is not a movie and only the lower ranks are held responsible.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Phildo

    I saw this on the news this morning. This is sad.

    December 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SFCFU


    December 22, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. B

    Do you all still remember the song by Eminem "White America"? Well, this is what that song was all about, America wake up! you are suppose to be the land of free, not the land of KKK

    December 25, 2011 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
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