Suicidal soldier didn't know of transfer

July 29, 2012 at 10:14 AM
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FORT BRAGG, N.C., July 29 (UPI) -- A U.S. Army officer testified a soldier who killed himself in Afghanistan didn't know he would be removed from the unit where he was racially harassed.

Prosecutors said Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, shot himself Oct. 3 because of frequent hazing and ethnic slurs by members of his platoon. Sgt. Adam Holcomb, 30, is on trial at Fort Bragg, N.C. facing charges of negligent homicide for allegedly harassing Chen. Seven other soldiers were court-martialed for their involvement.

Capt. Sean Allred, the company commander of the platoon said Chen was scheduled to be moved out of the their unit stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, two days after the suicide because he was performing poorly as a soldier and was unfit to be in a dangerous outpost, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

Allred testified Chen did not know of the planned transfer.

He said he was unaware Chen was being harassed.

"I wish that information had been provided to me," Allred said.

Testifying for the defense, Maj. Samantha Benesh, a forensic psychologist, testified Chen was already deeply troubled before he arrived in Afghanistan because his parents disowned him for joining the army. She said conflicts with family members are recognized as a risk factor for suicide.

Chen's mother, though, testified earlier in the week that while she and her husband were disappointed their son joined the army, they never disowned him, the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer reported

"He's my only son," she said. "Why would I disown my only son?"

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