By Debbie Gregory.
U.S. Army Base Fort Wainwright in Alaska is currently under investigation for racial hazing. The platoon of soldiers was reportedly given permission to use racial slurs against each other in what is known as “Racial Thursdays,” corresponding with the day of the week they are allowed to use their free pass.
The unit, 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3d Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, which belongs to the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, is the same unit that Pvt. Danny Chen belonged to. Chen committed suicide in 2011 while he was on tour in Afghanistan.
Authorities say Chen killed himself because he was hazed over his Chinese ancestry. Chen had planned to join the NYPD, and thought the Army would be good training. He wanted a steady income to help support his parents and thought college would be boring. Chen loved action and adventure, and wanted more of it in his own life. Nine months after he left for basic training, Chen was dead.
U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Lt. Col. Alan Brown confirmed that a commander’s inquiry was launched last week, but stressed there was no connection between the current case and Chen’s case, noting that leadership had turned over several times since the Chen situation.
A soldier, who asked to remain anonymous, was told when he arrived that ‘Racial Thursdays’ should continue to happen because it was “tradition.”
“The way it was put to me was it was a tradition among the guys,” the soldier said. “Every Thursday, they wouldn’t make you, you didn’t have to participate, but they’d remind you. Everybody would get a joke in or one person would be picked out and everybody would say jokes to that one person.”
The unit NCO, who is himself a minority, has refused to participate or put up with the practice, and has therefore received no abuse from the unit’s soldiers, but felt compelled to bring this to the media. He says the issue, among others, has been swept under the rug.
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Military Connection: Army Probes Alleged “Racial Thursdays”: By Debbie Gregory