NEW YORK — Supporters of Pvt. Danny Chen are planning to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his death with a series of actions seeking justice for the 19-year-old from New York.
On Oct. 3, 2011, Chen was found dead in Afghanistan after being hazed by six superiors while serving with C Co., 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Eight have been charged in connection with his death and have been or will be court-martialed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
Staff Sgt. Blaine Dugas, Sgt. Adam Holcomb, Spc. Thomas Curtis, Spc. Ryan Offutt and Sgt. Travis Carden have been convicted and sentenced for charges of dereliction of duty, hazing, maltreatment, including racial taunting, and assault. Charges of involuntary manslaughter were dropped. Three more will be tried:
Oct. 24-26 — 1st Lt. Daniel Schwartz, the highest-ranking commissioned officer who knew about the abuse and failed to stop it.
Nov. 5-9 — Sgt. Jeffrey Hurst, one of the five originally charged with negligent homicide.
Nov. 13-21 — Staff Sgt. Andrew Van Bockel, who ordered lower-ranking soldiers to haze Chen.
The New York chapter of OCA (Organization of Chinese Americans) is organizing free vans to go to North Carolina from New York City. Many of Chen’s friends and family members have attended the hearings. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCA-NY President Liz OuYang announced that a vigil will be held on Oct. 3 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Union Square’s South Pavilion on 14h Street. “The theme of the vigil will be to fill the sky with Danny. Using helium balloons, we will write messages to Danny and hold them high in the sky. We don’t want people to forget what happened to Danny.”
Supporters are also urged to go to www.ocanational.org to sign a petition demanding Army reforms; call Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at (703) 692-7100 and say, “Stop hazing, save lives. Rest in peace, Pvt. Danny Chen”; and hold their own events and post photos and videos on Facebook.