Hours before he turned a rifle on himself at his post in Afghanistan, an Army private from Manhattan faced abuse from his fellow soldiers, his parents said during a news conference Thursday after a briefing from military investigators.
Danny Chen, 19, was forced to crawl more than 100 yards to a guard post over gravel while carrying all of his equipment as his fellow soldiers pelted him with rocks, his family said they were told by Army investigators.
Later on Oct. 3, he was found dead at the post.
The alleged abuse began "almost immediately" after Chen arrived in Afghanistan in August, investigators told Chen's family at a briefing at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, his parents said.
The abuse continued nearly every day. Eight soldiers have been charged in connection with his death.
"You would think that after all of these months, the pain would subside," Chen's sobbing mother, Su Zhen Chen, said through an interpreter Thursday during the news conference at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in the Chinatown section of lower Manhattan. "But it seems that it's increasing."
Though the Army plans to hold court-martial hearings in Afghanistan, Chen's family has requested the proceedings be moved to the United States so it will be easier for them to attend.
"The family has been through absolute hell the last two months," said Elizabeth OuYang, president of the New York Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, who is helping the family communicate with Army officials.
"To give them some measure of closure, they must have the right to face those who are found guilty," OuYang said. "We must be able to see that justice can be served."
Wright said the location for the hearings and possible trial "is a decision for the court-martial convening authority in Afghanistan." He did not say when they would make that decision.
While in Afghanistan, Chen was repeatedly called vile ethnic slurs, forced to do push-ups while holding water in his mouth and ripped out of bed by a sergeant before being pulled across gravel more than 50 meters, OuYang said investigators told his family.