U.S. troops may face trial over sui­cide

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY DEB RIECH­MANN

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN | U.S. mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tors have rec­om­mended that four more Amer­i­can troops be court­mar­tialed in con­nec­tion with the sui­cide of their fel­low in­fantry­man who shot him­self in a guard tower in south­ern Afghanistan, the U.S. mil­i­tary said Tues­day.

The four are among eight U.S. sol­diers charged in the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, of New York City, who shot him­self af­ter what in­ves­ti­ga­tors say were weeks of racial slurs, hu­mil­i­a­tion and phys­i­cal abuse by his col­leagues.

Chen, who was of Chi­nese de­scent, had been in Afghanistan for two months when he com­mit­ted sui­cide Oct. 3 at a re­mote base in the south.

So far, U.S. mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tors have rec­om­mended that seven of the eight sol­diers be court-mar­tialed.

But the final decision on whether they will be court-mar­tialed will be made by their brigade com­man­der and then ul­ti­mately the com­man­der of the U.s.-led coali­tion’s south­ern re­gion.

Af­ter ar­riv­ing in Afghanistan, Chen re­port­edly was sub­jected to haz­ing by mem­bers of his unit, the 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 21st In­fantry Reg­i­ment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th In­fantry Di­vi­sion, based in Fort Wain­wright, Alaska.

Chen’s fam­ily has said in­ves­ti­ga­tors told them that he was forced to do ex­ces­sive sit-ups, push-ups, runs and sprints while car­ry­ing sand­bags.

On the day of his death, Chen re­ported to the guard tower with­out his hel­met or ad­e­quate water and was forced to crawl about 100 yards across gravel car­ry­ing his equip­ment as his com­rades threw rocks at him, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Chen’s fam­ily has quoted in­ves­ti­ga­tors as say­ing.

A hear­ing for the four sol­diers, con­ducted un­der Ar­ti­cle 32 of the Uni­form Code of Mil­i­tary Jus­tice, ended Mon­day at Kan­da­har Air Field.

The four sol­diers are: Staff Sgt. An­drew Van Bockel, 26, of Aberdeen, S.D.; Sgt. Jef­frey Hurst, 26, of Brook­lyn, Iowa; Sgt. Adam Hol­comb, 29, of Youngstown, Ohio; and Spc. Thomas Cur­tis, 25, of Hen­der­son­ville, Tenn.

The three other sol­diers who ear­lier were rec­om­mended to be court-mar­tialed are: Sgt. Travis Car­den, 24, of Fowler, Ind.; Spc. Ryan Of­futt, 32, of Greenville, Pa.; and 1st Lt. Daniel Schwartz, 25, of Mary­land. The mil­i­tary has not dis­closed a home­town for Lt. Schwartz.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have not de­cided whether to rec­om­mend that the eighth sol­dier, Staff Sgt. Blaine Du­gas, 35, of Port Arthur, Texas, be court-mar­tialed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.