Pvt. Danny Chen to be Remembered at Vigil a Year After His Death

By Serena Solomon on October 3, 2012 12:20pm 

NEW YORK — Pvt. Danny Chen will be remembered at a Union Square vigil Wednesday, a year after the Chinatown native committed suicide following a racially-charged hazing from fellow soliders.

The vigil will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the square' south plaza.

Chen, 19, a soldier from the East Village, shot himself in the head in a guard tower while on an Afghanistan tour. His death sparked an outcry from the Asian-American community in New York, pressuring the U.S. Army to hold a military trial for eight soldiers.

So far, five soldiers have been tried in connection with Chen's death. The next trial is set to begin on Oct. 24 for First Lt. Daniel Schwartz.

"This case has unearthed institutional practices [in the Army] that must change, particularly the practice of hazing," said Elizabeth OuYang, from the Organization for Chinese Americans in New York.

Soldiers involved in the trials were accused of several charges, including using racial slurs against Chen or assaulting him.

Some, including Schwatz, have charges of failing to prevent the hazing.

The military trials completed so far have produced different results.

In July Sgt. Adam Holcomb was acquitted of the top charges he faced, including negligent homicide, but he was convicted of two counts of maltreatment and one count of assault.

He was sentenced to 30 days confinement and reduction in rank and lost a month's worth of pay, totaling $1,181.55.

Another officer, Spc. Ryan Offutt, brokered a plea deal, which included accepting a dishonorable discharge from the army to avoid a charge of negligent homicide.

OuYang, along with elected officials such as Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, will attend the vigil. They and other community leaders have helped bring Chen's case into the national spotlight.

"We definitely want the public to be aware of these upcoming trials, the importance of these military trials," said OuYang, who has been attending the trials at the Fort Bragg Amy Base in North Carolina.

Chen attended P.S. 130 in Chinatown and was the only son of his parents, father Yan Tao Chen and mother Su Zhen Chen, who live in the East Village.

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