The second trial surrounding the death of Private Danny Chen is set to begin today at Fort Bragg. SPC Ryan Offutt faces similar charges to what Sgt. Holcomb did last week. The first trial concluded with Sgt. Holcomb acquitted of the most severe charges, specifically the charge of negligent homicide. He received 30 days in prison, the forfeiture of $1,000 pay, and a demotion from E-5 to E-4 (SGT to SPC). Assuming the defense is on their game, I do not see the trial of SPC Ryan Offutt ending any differently. The only person responsible for the death of Danny Chen is Danny Chen.
It was determined in SGT Holcomb’s trial that Private Chen was not driven to suicide by racial bullying, and rightly so. When I started following this case months ago it quickly became clear that this debate was being framed by military outsiders as a case of race when it was obvious to those in the military, especially the infantry, that it was not. The race card has been played extensively and perpetuated throughout the media, being pushed mostly by the New York Organization of Chinese Americans (NY-OCA) . I’m speculating that they probably would not receive as much attention were it not for the cooperation of U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, (D-N.Y.) who has proudly picked up the race banner and ran with it, even drafting legislation to combat what didnt happen. (Heck of a job you’re doing there congresswoman, knocking down those straw men. That is just what the military needs, more legislated political correctness.)
Nowhere in my investigations surrounding Chen’s suicide in Afghanistan did I find any information to suggest he was targeted for his race. Sure there were nicknames tossed around, but I can tell you from my experience in the infantry that everyone has nickname, and just because one deals with race does not mean it is meant in a derogatory or defamatory fashion. He was repeatedly smoked and made to do menial tasks because he was not a competent soldier and put others’ lives at risk. He would forget even the most basic tasks such as drinking water (in 130 degree heat), showing up to guard duty without water, falling asleep in the guard tower, even forgetting to clear (unload) his weapon, a huge safety violation. Chen was a liability so he often received corrective training. A large part of his poor performance seemed to stem from his strained relationship with his parents who disowned him for joining the military. While his parents adamantly denied it in the trial, there is overwhelming evidence that suggests otherwise. I have covered all this and more in my previous posts regarding his suicide.
I know that a lot of people have been looking for my next blog post to follow up “The Final Word On Private Danny Chen, Part 1.” I apologize for the delay, my life has been incredibly tumultuous with my business, writing assignments, competing/training in log rolling, and my second bout of Lymes Disease which has knocked me off my feet for over a month. I am trying to compile all of the information I acquired previously in addition to new information that I did not know prior to the Holcomb trial. All of this is done in my “free time.” I have put a lot of time and energy into this over the past months hunting down details, making contacts, and acquiring documentation. All of this takes time and energy away from other things, time that I cannot always spare. The time issue deals more with acquiring information that it does simply writing it up. I am not in Fort Bragg or Alaska nor am I anywhere near there so acquiring and confirming information can be challenging at times. Until I get it written, I suggest those who are interested go back and reread what I wrote previously surrounding the suicide of Private Danny Chen. You will find a lot of it to be the same. And if I start writing about other topics on here, please understand that I have not given up following the case, I am simply doing my best to “hurry up and wait” for more information.
Update: SPC Ryan Offutt takes plea deal
That was fast. SPC Ryan Offutt has apparently taken a plea deal with officials and pleaded guilty to the lesser charges.
The second soldier to face trial in the hazing-related suicide of Pvt. Danny Chen in Afghanistan last year pleaded this morning to reduced charges.
Spc. Ryan Offutt had been charged with negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, four counts of maltreatment of a subordinate, three counts of assault and two counts of violation of a lawful general regulation.
He was accused of calling Chen derogatory names, kicking him and throwing rocks and water bottles at him. He also grabbed Chen by his vest and dragged him, court documents say.
He pleaded guilty to one count of hazing and two specifications of maltreatment.
In exchange for his plea and a promise to testify against the other soldiers involved in the death, all remaining charges against Offutt are being dropped.