Army Drops Top Charge In Pvt. Danny Chen’s Death; 4 More Soldiers May Be Tried

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The family of a Chinatown soldier who committed suicide after repeated hazing from his superiors is speaking out after the Army decided to drop the top charge against four of the eight soldiers charged in connection with his death.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

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

He had only been in Afghanistan for two months when he committed suicide last fall. Chen’s relatives say he was brutally hazed during training because he was Chinese-American.

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

But the most serious charges of involuntary manslaughter against the four soldiers have been dropped, drawing outrage from City Councilwoman Margaret Chen.

“The Army is saying that these individuals did not intend to kill or injure Danny,” she said Tuesday while appearing with Chen’s parents.

“We are disappointed that the involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped,” said Elizabeth OuYang of the Organization of Chinese Americans. “We are in the dark as to why it was dropped because we cannot see what’s going on in Afghanistan.”

The Chens are demanding the trial be held in the United States.

“They are disappointed, but they certainly hope that the Army and the prosecutors will do the upmost in bringing this case to a rightful conclussion,” the family said through a translator.

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

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

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

Charges against the eight soldiers range from dereliction of duty to negligent homicide.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • army mom

    The media does not have it close,even a little bit. I do know the facts and I can tell you, as sad as it is, Danny killed himself no other reason than he couldn’t handle the pressure and he had a ton of personal issues that will come out at the trials. Sadly the family is being led to think the death was the fault of these soldiers without the knowledge or insight of what really was going on. They will only be hurt by what they will learn and ultimatly OU-Yang will be very sorry for encouraging this. I am all for the truth but be careful what you wish for. By the way… sticks and stones blah blah I tought my children in elemtary school

    • DarthEVaderCheney

      army mom… sorta says it all, does it not?!

      • army mom

        DARTH- what does that mean exactly.? I don’t much care for your sarcasim!

        • DarthEVaderCheney

          First of all, the word is “sarcasm,’ not sarcasim!!! Secondly… who was being sarcastic??!!?? Sober UP!!!

          • MizAmerica

            Army mom is 100% correct! OU-Yang did not wait for the investigation and jumped the gun. She stirred up a sh!tstorm before the facts were in because she ASSUMED it was racial. Apparently there is a lot of information in both his journal and his computer that do NOT match the narrative that has been put out to the press. Now that this has gone so public Pvt. Chen’s private thoughts will be put out for all to see!!

            • DarthEVaderCheney

              I’m sure Pvt Chen is so worried about THAT… you Ditz!!!

              • MizAmerica

                Hey Nasty….I am talking about Pvt. Chen’s surviving family.

                • army mom

                  I have not heard one single intelligent thing come out of your mouth “Darth” This is a very serious situation of seasoned army soldiers being accused of things that either didn’t happen like they have been described or AT ALL. The death of Pvt Chen is indeed very sad for his family and my heart goes out to them but the blame should only be placed on Danny. Were not talking playground here, the military at war is very serious and I can tell you one young soldier took his job very seriously. Race has nothing to do with this, but only in the eyes of the media and the activists that aren’t using the brain god gave them……Thank you MizAmerica for your thoughts and support of the truth.

                  • DarthEVaderCheney

                    First of all,please capitolize God!!! Secondly, you would not know truth, intelligence or the difference if it slapped you in the face! Lastly, do you think I really give an airbourne fornication what you think??? Mmmmehhhhh…..wrong!

                    • DarthEVaderCheney


                    • army mom

                      Apparently you mis-read my blog, I did not say I gave a flying crap about your opinion, Total morons like you don’t even warrent air to breath. It’s so obvious you know NOTHING about this other than the crap printed in the media and your not willing to listen to the truth so until that time just shut your pie hole.

  • 2012

    Maybe this kid just couldn’t handle WAR. I’m so sick of people blaming everything on racism. Maybe the races should be divided up or go back to your home country so we don’t have to deal with this kind of crap anymore. If this country was so racist, you think Flushing would be the way it was? There is not one sign written in English. I feel like I’m in China.

    • DarthEVaderCheney

      We could only wish, Shortstop… We could only wish youd leave!!!

  • CT Native

    I smell a cover-up!!!!!!

  • DarthEVaderCheney

    The only thing we can do is boycott the Army in any way possible. It is the only way they will learn!!!

    • MizAmerica

      Yeah, boycott the Army that sounds like a plan!!! While Danny Chen’s suicide is tragic we are only hearing one side! Push-ups, sit-ups, flutter kicks, and sprinting are all necessary when serving in the INFANTRY!!! EVERYONE does it!! I have read more informative articles on other sites that pointed to Pvt. Chen having some difficulties adjusting to being in a combat zone. You cannot let a soldier go willy nilly in a COMBAT ZONE!!! It seems to me he was disciplined for that NOT for being CHINESE!! I would also mention EVERYONE has a nickname in the military!! Jackie Chan seems AWFULLY tame compared to others!!! This is the ARMY not Boy Scout camp. You can go on and on about their sensitivity but they are not living in a civilian world…..they live in a world of life and death at every turn every day 24/7!! Civilians don’t have to worry about people trying to KILL them every day!!

      • DarthEVaderCheney


        • MizAmerica

          So you believe that not being able to do your job in a combat zone is no big deal? YOU have no idea what was going on in Danny Chen’s head. I am sure that Danny Chen was a wonderful young man but that does not mean he was cut out for the INFANTRY! It has been reported through multiple sources that it was BECAUSE he was Chinese that they were so eager to get him enlisted! Do ANY of you find that to problematic? Putting his race BEFORE his ability for statistical purposes!!! This is not a racial issue or a hazing issue! It was a discipline issue with a terrible outcome that nobody saw coming!!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live