Army Charges Eight After Death of Alaska-Based Soldier
Chen allegedly subject to racially motivated hazing
Eight U.S. soldiers from Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks have been charged with the assault and harassment of a Chinese-American GI who killed himself in Afghanistan in October.
Private Danny Chen, 19, of Manhattan, was found in a guard tower in Kandahar Province on October 3, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Now eight soldiers from Chen’s Army company are charged with offenses ranging from dereliction of duty to negligent homicide.
The Chinatown community packed the streets of New York for the funeral of Private Danny Chen in October. Now supporters of Chen say they’re seeing some justice, with charges against eight soldiers who allegedly tormented Chen in the months leading up to his death.
Chen’s supporters say they believe he was victimized by a racially motivated hazing ritual. From his journal and posts on Facebook, they say they know he was constantly fighting accusations that he wasn’t American.
All eight men charged were Chen’s superiors.
Chen’s mom cried as she recalled that her only son had always wanted to serve his country. Chen is the only son of Chinese immigrants. Friends say he found a surrogate family in Alaska.
Those charged in connection with Chen’s death are Staff Sgt. Andrew Van Bockel; Sgt. Adam Holcomb; Sgt. Jeffrey Hurst; Specialist Thomas Curtis; Specialist Ryan Offutt; 1st Lt. Daniel Schwartz; Staff Sgt. Blaine Dugas; and Sgt. Travis Carden. They remain in Afghanistan.
So far the Army has not described the alleged actions that led to the charges.