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Chen's father, medic testify in trial of sergeant Adam Holcomb

CCTV.com

07-26-2012 10:42 BJT

By Jessica Stone, CCTV Washington Correspondent

The U.S. Army medic who treated Army Private Danny Chen after Sergeant Adam Holcomb dragged him across 40 yards of gravel took the witness stand Wednesday. 

Holcomb is on trial for negligent homicide, reckless endangerment and assault among others for the October 3, 2011 suicide of Private Danny Chen, a 19-year-old, Chinese-American who had just deployed to Afghanistan in August 2011.

Five days before Chen's death, Holcomb dragged him after Chen forgot to turn off a hot water heater, endangering other soldiers and vital communications equipment.  The jury saw a picture of Chen's back with scrapes from his upper right shoulder down to his waist as Specialist Zachary Bolin described Chen's injuries, calling them "scrapes and abrasions like a skinned knee."  Bolin said he did not believe they were serious enough to report. He acknowledged watching Chen "closely" for signs of suicide, asking him point blank at one point if he had suicidal thoughts.  He recalls Chen replying "no."

The U.S. Army medic who treated Army Private Danny Chen after Sergeant Adam
Holcomb dragged him across 40 yards of gravel took the witness stand Wednesday.

Poll: Danny Chen's Death     (Total Votes:Loading)
1.What do you think of Danny Chen’s death?
A. He has made a wrong decision and he was not fit to join the army.
B. He must be heavily maltreated in the army.
C. He was a good boy and should deserve a better future.
D. His death should raise people’s concern of soldiers’ life.
2.Do you think it is a common phenomenon that soldiers maltreated in the US army?
A. Yes
B. No
C. I have no idea.

 

Strong Point Palace, the U.S. Army post in Kandahar, Afghanistan had just 20 men to hold back insurgents who could easily hide in the surrounding grape rows.  Private First Class Justin Christiansen served tower guard duty with Chen and said there were days when that duty lasted more than 10 hours for Chen and himself and as long as 18 hours at a time for others.

It was here that Sergeant Adam Holcomb repeatedly called Chen racial slurs and disciplined him for his mistakes on guard duty — like forgetting his helmet, water and night vision goggles as well as falling asleep:  mistakes that could cost lives.
 
But Private Joshua Morgan told jurors Wednesday he "felt Chen was being mistreated." Others agreed.  Private First Class Adrian Douglas said of Chen, "He said it made him angry sometimes but he didn't think he could do anything about it."

His fellow soldiers did nothing either.

Staff Sergeant Darren Holt said he helped to repair the damage left behind by the water heater and said all the troops had received training on how to properly turn it off.  One soldier doesn't recall that Chen ever got trained.  Holt told the jury that after Holcomb dragged Chen, he told him “he shouldn't have done it” and tried to calm him down. Holt testified that he saw no connection between the dragging incident and Danny's death five days later.

Chen's fellow soldiers say he gave no hint of depression, but had confided to Private Morgan that “he had been disowned by his family.”

But in an exclusive interview with CCTV, Danny’s father, Yan Tao Chen, said: "The proudest moment we have of him was when he finished his military training from Georgia. He came back to visit home for one week. We were so proud of him. He has changed so quickly from a student to a man."

He told the jury:"He was like a pearl in my palm.  I would never disown my son."

 

 

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