8 GIs charged in death of fellow U.S. soldier in Afghanistan

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

The U.S. Army on Wednesday charged eight soldiers in connection with the death of fellow soldier Pvt. Danny Chen.

Chen, 19, an infantryman in Afghanistan, was found dead from a gunshot wound in Kandahar on October 3rd. His death had initially been ruled a suicide.

But Chen's family and Chinese-American activists said Chen had been relentlessly bullied, and urged the "Pentagon to investigate allegations that Chen had been the subject of hazing within the ranks and had been repeatedly taunted with racial slurs," the Washington Post's Ernesto Londono and Christian Davenport reported.

It's not clear that any of the soldiers charged are thought to have shot Chen. "But a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command said the probe into how Chen died includes 'the circumstances leading up to his death,'" Londono and Davenport wrote.

According to an Army press release, "1st Lt. Daniel J. Schwartz, Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas, Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Van Bockel, Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, Sgt. Jeffrey T. Hurst, Spec. Thomas P. Curtis, Spec. Ryan J. Offutt and Sgt. Travis F. Carden had been charged with counts that include dereliction of duty, making a false statement, assault, negligent homicide and reckless endangerment," the Post said. Five of the soldiers were charged with negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter.

"The soldiers remain in Afghanistan but have been removed from their duty positions and sent to a different base," Fox News reported.

At a press conference Wednesday, "New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez said soldiers called Chen 'Jackie Chen' in a derisive accent," Fox News reported. "She said Chen was dragged across a floor, had stones thrown at the back of his head and was forced to hold liquid in his mouth while upside down as part of apparent hazing."

The charges "give us some hope," Chen's father, Yen Tao Chen, told the news conference through a translator. Chen's mother, Su Zhen Chen, said she's grateful the Army "is taking this seriously."

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