Monday, October 03, 2011

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, of New York

Pvt Chen was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Oct. 3, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan of unspecified causes.

Pvt Danny Chen was found in his barracks with non-combat injuries.

Pvt Danny Chen grew up in Chinatown. He graduated from Pace University High School in Manhattan in 2010 and briefly attended Baruch College before joining the Army in January 2011. He deployed to Afghanistan in August.

Before he left, Pvt Chen told his loved ones not to be sad if anything should happen to him.

Pvt Chen was described as a quiet, smart student with a unique sense of humor. He hoped to become a member of the New York City Police Department after he completed his service.

Pvt Chen's family was against the idea of his joining the service, especially since he was an only child. His aunt, Lucy Chen, said there was no stopping him.

“He want to save the country, something like that. He really loved the country,” Lucy Chen said.

Chen’s mother said her son dreamed of serving in the military since he was a child. What makes the heartbreak even more painful is what the family found out shortly after learning of his death.

Pvt Chen’s parents reportedly said military personnel informed them that their son had been subjected to harassment and physical abuse by fellow soldiers and may have committed suicide. Reports indicate that Chen died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Through a translator, his parents said someone within their son’s unit told the family that Chen had been beaten up by fellow soldiers.

Translator Frank Gee said the family was told that Chen was “harassed and beaten up by six soldiers.”

Pvt Chen's father had been concerned Chen faced race problems in the Army and had asked his son about it. The family said Chen never complained about any problems he was having in the Army.

Pvt Chen was reportedly the only Asian-American soldier in his barracks. They asked the question, specifically, are you discriminated against because you’re Chinese or whatever.’ Danny said I would rather not answer that question,” translator Gee told Hsu.

The parents were told their son was shot through the chin, but they dismissed any suggestion of suicide.

Pvt Chen was laid to rest on October 13 in Kensico Cemetery.

Pvt Chen is survived by his parents, Yan Tao Chen and Su Zhen Chen.

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