NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The U.S. military has brought charges against eight soldiers serving in Afghanistan in connection with the death of Private Danny Chen.

Chen, who is from Chinatown, was found slumped in a guard tower in Afghanistan in October, the result of what Army officials originally said was “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.” He was just 19.

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But Army investigators now say there’s more to the story and announced military criminal charges Wednesday against eight other soldiers in connection with Chen’s death.

“The charges announced today in connection with the tragic death of Danny Chen, who grew up in the Chinatown district that I represent, are an important first step in ensuring that those responsible for this deplorable crime are brought to justice,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement.

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It was what Chen’s mother wanted to hear from the Army; what his father, other family, and friends had been fighting for since his mysterious death on Oct. 3.

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They wanted someone to be held accountable for his death, because, as CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman reports, they did not believe the first story: that he had killed himself. So, they marched and they used the most provocative tool available today: they put their story, “What Happened To Danny Chen,” on YouTube.

The growing grassroots campaign worked as on Wednesday the Army took action.

Guzman spoke to Chen’s mother, Su Zhen Chen, right after the charges were announced, and through a translator, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, she expressed her relief.

“They felt better when they heard these people were charged, but they really want the Army to do everything to prosecute and punish the people who mistreated and did this to Danny,” Chin said.

Asked about the death of Pvt. Chen and the Army investigation, and whether hazing in the Armed Forces is just a part of the culture, Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby said: “Any single case of hazing or inappropriate conduct to a fellow soldier, Airman, Marine, Sailor, Coast Guardsman is inappropriate and not acceptable. Zero is the right number.”

The Army charged 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 with counts ranging from involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide to assault and making a false official statement. The Army is not saying at this time they killed Pvt. Chen. But the Army appears to be saying for now that their constant bullying may have driven Chen to taking his own life.

“For Danny Chen to have died in non-combat related injuries because of hazing by his superiors is unacceptable and it’s very disturbing,” said Elizabeth OuYang of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

A week after her son’s death, Chen’s mother told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu through a translator her son had always dreamed of serving in the military. He wanted to serve and then join the NYPD. He enlisted in the Army early this year despite his family’s objections — Danny was their only son, and they were concerned about him.

Once serving abroad, things seemed to go horribly wrong.

Translator Frank Gee told Hsu the family was told Chen was “harassed and beaten” by fellow soldiers. Chen’s parents became concerned it might have been a racial issue.

“[Chen’s parents] asked the question, specifically, ‘Are you discriminated against because you’re Chinese or whatever.’ Danny said ‘I would rather not answer that question,'” Gee told Hsu on Oct. 11.

Chen’s parents said Danny never complained about any problems he was having in the Army.

“He wanted to save the country. He really loved the country,” said Danny’s aunt, Lucy Chen.

OuYang said fellow soldiers called Chen “Jackie Chen” and said he was dragged across the floor and had stones thrown at him, among other things.

“We will be monitoring these courts-martial until their justice is served,” OuYang said at Wednesday’s news conference.

Chen’s father also spoke about the charges.

“We realize that Danny will never return, but it gives us some hope,” Chen’s father, Yen Tao Chen, said through a translator.

“We need to know the whole truth,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez. “Racial discrimination and intolerance have no place in today’s military.”

The eight soldiers are still in Afghanistan but were sent to different base after being removed from their posts.

Tell us your reaction in the comments section below.

Comments (54)
  1. Asian mother AK says:

    I can’t believe Chen killed himself i think the military didn’t tell the true. It has to be someone who killed him and they make it look like a suicided. I had a son who is an American Asian just joined the military should I be concern about him too?. This is the United State of America why do they allowed this thing to happen in the military.When they are in the enemy line no matter what colors of their skin they are brothers. If my son can’t trust his superiorwho does he trust his enemy??

  2. USMC says:

    I bet the bullies were irish rednecks. Racist bullies. You know it’s true.

  3. Served in Iraq says:

    Danny,………Rest in Peace…we are all Americans and hope you forgiive those who did this to you. They are cowards , not soldiers !!!

  4. blueeyeddevil says:

    Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, 21, of Santa Clara, CA died as a result of the white Marines also.

  5. Ellen Perry says:

    The “men” (criminals, racists and murderers seem like more apt descriptions) who did this to Danny Chen should be publicly skinned alive. They are supposed to protect and serve, not torture, humiliate and kill their comrades and fellow Americans. This is repulsive conduct that no good American, regardless of political affiliation, should stand for. Everyone should put pressure on their local lawmakers to make sure the Andrew J. Van Bockel, Adam M. Holcomb, Jeffrey T. Hurst, Thomas P. Curtis and Ryan J. Offutt are dishonorably discharged, tried for their crimes and punished harshly. The military should set an example with them. Frankly, I’d like to skin each one of them alive with a pair of doll scissors. It’s the least they deserve. Please continue to keep us posted, CBS.

  6. D Chen says:

    Being a Chinese, I am extremely sad of this continuing condition.
    I see it more from young teens especially in a group. When will this ends?. .

  7. PaPa Joe says:

    Mr. & Mrs. Chen, my wife’s and my deepest sympathies. Nothing worse than this.

  8. Glenn Erdmann says:

    Mr. & Mrs. Chen my heart goes out to you. I assure you all Americans are not like these cowards.

  9. HoffmanSelma says:

    I thought these comments went out with long ago…geeeezzzzzzz…@Proud to serve the military, Who was him? Want to make near ten thousand dollars one month with a few hours work everyday. Here MakeCash23.

    1. Sasha says:

      You are all over the place making incredible, non-senseical comments and presenting the cash now scheme. Your remarks are silly, not needed and, for the most part, unwelcomed. Are you a 12 year old who just got a lap-top and a quiet palce to act dumb? Go away !

  10. New York City says:

    Officer Chen I salute you

    Officer not private

  11. J EDGAR says:


    1. JAMES says:


  12. Ellen says:

    My heart goes out to this young man and his family/ I hope they prosecute these thugs for doing such an awful thing. God Bess you Chen and thank you for your service to this country.

  13. mj says:

    wow!!!!! i thought ALL soldiers were heros….ALL cops too at least thats how the media portarays them … guess they’re wrong…. what a surprize

  14. abner says:

    It goes back to Bush who wanted a war but did not have enough guts to want a draft, so you have an all voluteer army where otherwise there would be all kinds of people and the creeps would be diluted


      That’s funny ABNER because your boy Clinton and your boy Obama also used an all volunteer army to wage war.

      1. BeanandBullets says:

        I would say Clinton had a war, but the Iraq/ AFG war was all Bush. You know how Cowboys in Texas think. Its my way or nothing. Bush wanted to rule the world. Two wars, I can understand AFG; but Iraq is all Bush and his VP who is responsible for the 4500 soliders killed in Iraq. Lost many friends all because of BUSH and people that supported him. Like you DOUBLE_CHINNED_PUPPETEER !!

      2. BeanAndBullets says:

        Another Bush lover. Thats why Bush was in the Air National Guard. He wanted to be a war hero. That why he started the war in Iraq, my bad Saddam tried to kill his dad, that was the reason we went to war with Iraq and the oil. When will the Cowboy learn? DOUBLE_CHINNED_PUPPETEER.

  15. Bullett says:

    I think this is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” issue and will come out during the military trial.

    1. Eddie says:

      I agree with you Bullet, there is more going on here. And whatever that is ” There’s nothing wrong with that” Seinfeild.

  16. ZenRulz says:

    Some of the comments on here makes not feel bad for the white POS that perished on 9/11.

  17. Brad says:

    Investigations need to produce facts; the question is, are the findings true? Example:

    Pat Tillman, who gave up the glamorous life of a professional football star to join the Army Rangers, was remembered as a role model of courage and patriotism Friday after military officials said he had been killed in action in Afghanistan.

    An investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command concluded that Tillman and the Afghan militia soldier were killed by friendly fire when one allied group fired upon another in confusion after nearby gunfire was mistakenly believed to be from enemy combatants. The CID Report summary, dated 19 March 2007, stated that: “during their movement through the canyon road, Serial 2 [Tillman’s platoon had to split up because of a broken Humvee, the parts were called Serial 1 and 2] was ambushed and became engaged in a running gun battle with enemy combatants.

    1. Served in Iraq says:

      What is your point? War is HELL !!!! no one should die .

      1. Uscg. says:

        I’m fdny and I can tell you, war and a half a s s uniform gets you far in NYC

    2. Mary says:

      Accidental friendly fire is a lot different than deliberate. What Sgt. Holcomb was doing to these young men was deplorable. They were going through enough with being in a war zone…

  18. Marty-o says:

    This story tells me nothing. Why were the soldiers arrested? Was it for murder? What are the allegations? This article only tells half the story.

    1. mary says:

      Read it. It says charges range from involitary manslaughter to negligent homicide. The army is not saying they killed D. Chen but acknowledge that the bullying led to the act.

  19. Truth B Told says:

    The pop up ads through out this CBS web site are VERY ANNOYING!

    1. HP says:

      Why don’t you keep playing your MW3.

  20. HP says:

    I guess someone in CBS has some common sense to take off that stupid comment some ignorant and misguided, and stupid idiot posted early. Just know this, at least Danny had the guts to join the Army. Unlike some stupid idiot, just sitting in front of the TV playing MW3 and pretend to fight for this country.

  21. Pyatt says:

    Maybe he was around alot of blacks in military. They seem to think Asians are wimps and love to taunt them. Look at all of the Chinese food deliverymen that get robbed and killed by them. Doesn’t happen as much to other races of deliverymen…..Anyway, I believe that maybe he committed suicide because of taunting by whatever race.

    1. A "Going Postal" Worker says:

      You are an idiot.
      While some blacks might have that attitude (as “some people generally” have extremely bad attitudes), how do you know that all blacks think that way?

      You sound like some of the Long Island idiots that respond to this website (thinking that every serious story is a joke).

      1. Pyatt says:

        First, I don’t think that any story is a joke when one of our military is killed. And just saying that it could have been like I said (from what I see very often/ guess you don’t have street smarts). But we may never know the truth. Gov’t covers many things up. Look at 9/11 and more recently, Bin Laden.

      2. Very conservative says:

        Liberalism is a mental disorder

    2. Served in Iraq says:

      You have such a small amount of data to say that. Deliverymen,,,givr me a break!!

  22. THE INSPECTOR says:


    1. WHITESUCK says:


  23. Sal Malnela says:

    Knowing only slight details and only one side, an educated comment can not be made either way. The military has in place plenty of avenues for an individual to pursue if they are being harassed/bullied, if they are having mental issues or just need a friend to handle. Who is being charged? Is it his chain of command? I don’t think his (e-5) squad leader was involved, his (e-6+) plt sgt was involved, his plt leader (2lt+), his 1st sgt or his XO or Commander, but they are the ones that should have known what was going on within the command

  24. Jason from CT says:

    Wow – another clueless KKK clan member….

  25. Tony H says:

    You piece of trash. He joined the Military for this country and he is an Amerian. WTF do you do aside from jacking off on your own mother and sister?

  26. Proud to serve the miltary says:

    I thought these comments went out with long ago…geeeezzzzzzz

  27. Jim says:

    There is an air of racist here

  28. Jim E says:

    you are a racist> How dare you say that !! Yes, He is Chinese. so what ????? Are we all from the US????? Only the American Indian is the true US Citiizen – not like you!!!!!

  29. Very conservative says:

    Liberalsim is a mental disorder.

    1. Jay Stanton says:

      Conservatism is racism. Zeig Heil, you nazi. Now get outta my country.

      1. A "Going Postal" Worker says:

        Don’t pay this person any mind, Jay.

        They are apparently so stupid, it’s the only phrase they’re capable of writing.

        Hey “Very conservative” – let me guess, you are pro-life yet u support the death penalty. Why don’t you and Joe The Plumber go “unplug” each other?

        1. Very conservative says:


          1. A "Going Postal" Worker says:

            Hey Very conservative – it’s not yet time for Jersey Shore reruns (so you can go back to sleep).

  30. Vito says:

    Those accuse of this crime deserve the same. Death. Don’t send them to military prison for life. Death by firing squad.

    1. Jean says:

      If they are court martialed and found guilty of murder, that is exactly what their sentence will be. The military is unapologetically unforgiving and the death penalty is enforced if found to be appropriate. That said, how can you torture and kill a comrade in arms? No matter the color of his skin or his ethnicity, you share a brotherhood that can only be forged when you place your lives in each others hands and you stick together to survive. It’s disgraceful. BTW, you don’t have to be a citizen to serve, just have permament residency.

      1. Vik says:

        This is one of the most disgusting stories I’ve read. The only story that it compares to is the one about that monster Sandusky. After they’ve been court martialed and sentenced, I think the citizens of the U.S. deseve a refund for the tax dollars that were spent on these despicable, evil jerks. And they should their punishment outside U.S. because they don’t deserve to every set foot on U.S. soil again.

  31. A "Going Postal" Worker says:

    This is an absolute OUTRAGE!!!!

    Where are the court martials (or maybe “capital punishment”) for the cretins that did this??

    American soldiers should not be harming other American soldiers (who are trying to do the right thing). Thanks to the stupid NEO-CONS, our military is over-extended – and maybe some soliders have gone “nuts” from spending too much time in combat zones (not to mention that the Iraq war has helped to BANKRUPT the US government). Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith – I can’t wait to see you losers on trial! Where’s all of that Iraq oil revenue, Wolfowitz (you little liar)?

    Above all, my heartfelt condolences to this young man’s family.

  32. Att. Hoar says:

    They should “Full Metal Jacket” whoever did this to him…

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