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Sgt. Holcomb sentenced to 30 days, rank lowered over soldier’s suicide

Published: Wed, August 1, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.

Los Angeles Times




Army Sgt. Adam Holcomb of Youngstown was sentenced to 30 days in prison Tuesday and was reduced in rank for assaulting and maltreating Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, a Chinese American who endured abuse and ethnic slurs before committing suicide in Afghanistan on Oct. 3.

A court-martial panel of 10 service members could have sentenced Holcomb, 30, to a maximum of two years in prison with a dishonorable discharge. He was convicted at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Monday of assault and maltreatment for dragging Chen across a rocky pathway, bloodying his back, and for calling him “dragon lady” and other slurs.

Prosecutors had accused Holcomb, a platoon team leader who was not Chen’s immediate supervisor, of hounding Chen into committing suicide. But the panel rejected that scenario, acquitting Holcomb of negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, hazing and communicating a threat.

Holcomb will be reduced in rank from sergeant to specialist, forfeiting nearly $1,200 in pay. Chinese American activists attending the trial demanded Monday that Holcomb never serve in the military again.

Holcomb’s military defense lawyers described him as a hero for his outstanding performance during three combat tours.

“He will always have the stigma of being convicted at a court-martial,” his attorney said during closing statements. “Suffice it to say, Sgt. Holcomb has been punished enough.”

One soldier, who lost a leg to an improvised explosive device, testified that Holcomb saved his life by holding off insurgents while calling in a medical helicopter.

Holcomb and Chen shared living quarters at a tiny, bleak base in southern Afghanistan called Combat Outpost Palace. A platoon of just 26 men was attacked almost daily by insurgents, and seven men were wounded.

Prosecutors said Holcomb and other soldiers ostracized and harassed Chen because of his Chinese American heritage. Defense lawyers said Chen was an inept and poorly prepared soldier who put lives at risk because he was chronically late, slept on guard duty, forgot to wear his equipment and could not properly fire his automatic rifle.

Seven other soldiers have been charged in Chen’s death. Their courts-martial will be held later this year.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


1saddad(646 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Geeze HBB--the guy Fell ASLEEP ON GUARD DUTY. I dont think your comments show a man of moderation or good judgment. This Sgt is said to have dragged him and scratched up his back--Oh My! I am liberal as you will find here and i would have shot him.

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2doowoptokidrock(325 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Military court is as big a joke as local court.The loser from Youngstown should be in prison.

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3steelwagon(284 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

And just wait until this fat overbearing bully leaves the military.
He's going to come home and probably be hired on a local police dept where he can continue to bully,harass and mistreat anyone he pleases.

Danny Chen may not have been the ideal soldier but that doesn't give anyone the right to abuse him or bully him..

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4saddad(646 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I am sure glad that you angry yahoos that post your bile every day never did have any responsibility and never will be in any position of authority. Ive gone back and read earlier posts from you guys. It must really suck to be you and have to suffer inhaling your own fumes every day.

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5MFC997(258 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

It is harsh out in the bush ... if you can't hack it then other people get killed ... the kid could barely wipe his own a** ... he didn't deserve to die ... but he should've never been out there ...

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6boxerlover(133 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

@saddad...thank you!! I was thinking the same thing. Seems like they missed the part that Pvt. Chen put his fellow soldiers at risk every day, including the day he shot himself while supposedly being on guard duty to protect his unit from insurgents. Again, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. According to some military friends of mine, if all the military personnel that have been hazed committed suicide, we wouldn't have a military. Hopefully, Pvt. Chen has finally found peace. My sympathies to his family.

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7redeye1(5260 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

If Chen was any kind of man , he would have grinned and beared it. But no, he took the easy way out probably with hopes that someone else would suffer for his own stupidity. If I was in that court this guy would have walked.free. You shouldn't be held responsible for others stupid actions. I served 7 years in Army, this happened quite often and nobody I served with died by their own stupidity

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