Soldier Sentenced to 30 Days in Death of Pvt. Chen

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The first soldier to be convicted by a military court over the suicide of Private Danny Chen has been sentenced to 30 days, demoted one rank to an E4 and will have to pay a fine of $1,181.55, or half a month's salary.

Sgt. Adam Holcomb was found guilty Monday of assault and mistreatment of a subordinate. He was acquitted of the most serious charge of negligent homicide.

The Chen family traveled down to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to attend the proceedings. Elizabeth OuYang, a Chen family representative and president of the New York chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, said she was appalled by the light sentence.

"Thirty days hardly equates with Pvt. Danny's life being cut short at the age of 19," she said. "Danny did not have an opportunity to get married, have children and his parents don’t have the privilege of a child that will take care of them when they are old.”

She added that the light sentence “calls into question the army’s commitment to diversity and respect. Asian-American parents will be petrified to send their sons and daughters to the army knowing that there are superiors convicted of racial maltreatment still serving.”

There are seven more courts-martial trials in Chen's death. Ben Abel, public affairs representative at Fort Bragg, said each trial is separate and could have different outcomes.

"We strive incredibly hard in the Army to ensure that we try each case on its merits, based on the evidence at hand," he explained.

Abel said the Commander at Fort Bragg has the ultimate authority to accept the 10-member military juries findings outright or he can lessen the punishment. “Based on the judicial system provided by Congress commanders can lessen the severity, but can’t impose more punishment than the panel recommends,” he said.

Holcomb was the first of eight soldiers facing charges for abuse that military prosecutors said led to Chen committing suicide in Afghanistan on October 3, 2011. Holcomb, who will be demoted to a Corporal, allegedly used racial slurs, such as “dragon lady” against Chen.

The next soldier to face trial starting on August 13 is Spc. Ryan Offutt. He is charged with negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, three charges for assault, four counts of maltreatment of a subordinate and two counts of violation of lawful general regulation. According to his military charge sheet, he used racist language to refer to Chen and threw rocks and water bottles at him in Afghanistan.

One of the eight, Sgt. Travis Carden, who is accused of reckless endangerment, assault and two counts of maltreatment of a subordinate and two specifications of violating regulations, has been referred to summary court martial and his court martial has been postponed, Abel said.


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Comments [6]

Michael from New York

This is just incredibly appalling. For more on this, I'd recommend checking out Democracy Now! today, they're talking with Liz Ouyang, president of OCA-New York, a civil rights organization, where she advocates for victims of hate crimes and fair media representation of Asian Americans. She's also a spokesperson for Private Danny Chen's parents; also Julia Chung a volunteer working on Justice for Private Danny Chen. Should be really informative:

Aug. 01 2012 08:59 AM
kevin from upper LS

hey, john from the office,would you care to ressurect your comment, about "people needing to grow a pair". that was beyond senseless on your part,to even say that. you weren't there,and even if you were,neither you nor anyone, should assume license to say something, so nakedly insane.

Jul. 31 2012 05:04 PM
john from office

As I said, that is why there are trials. Do you suggest a lynch mob would be better. I dont know what happened in that unit.

Jul. 31 2012 01:08 PM
Still Serving from Fort Bragg, NC

@ John from office: I am in the Army and a minority and have served during multiple deployments in Iraq & Afghanistan. I've been in longer than Holcomb, and known men (and women) who suffer from PTSD. What witnesses agreed upon was his physical and verbal abuse repeatedly. I don't care if Pvt Chen aws apoor soldier. He didn't deserve that, and Holcomb doesnt' deserve to wear any rank on our uniform. He's a disgrace and his sentence sends a chilling message to those still serving and anyone contepmlating joining our ranks that we protect a POS like him and tacitly condone mistreatment of young troopers. What was apparent is that Holcomb and other so-called leaders of his outfit bred a climate of intolerance and ignorance that they felt it was safe to be openly hostile to minorities. Shame on that jury.

Jul. 31 2012 12:39 PM
john from office

This is why we have trials. Anyone who comments was not there, in a war zone, with these men. I am sorry for his death, but I dont know what happened there, nor what was in his head.

Jul. 31 2012 12:17 PM

I'm appalled too.

Jul. 31 2012 12:09 PM

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