Second Court Martial Begins In US Marine Harry Lew Case

On February 7th, the military trial of Sgt. Benjamin Johns, one of the three marines that has been accused of hazing Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, began. This case has been mentioned on 8Asians before, so I won’t repeat the details, but in summary: Harry was brutalized by three marines while in Afghanistan for falling asleep during guard duty. He was stomped on, punched, and had the contents of a sandbag poured on his chest and face. After one of these incidents, Harry committed suicide. Last month, one of the other marines, Lance Cpl. Jacob Jacoby, was sentenced to just 30 days in jail and a reduction in rank (but wasn’t kicked out of the marines). In Jacoby’s case, the prosecutors dropped the charge of hazing and making threats.

The thing that angers me most is that Harry’s suicide wasn’t even allowed to be brought up in Jacoby’s trial, because apparently (according to Judge Navy Capt. Carrie Stephens) there’s no evidence to prove that the abuse directly led to Harry killing himself. In Johns’ trial, too, the jurors won’t be told about the suicide; just that Harry has died.

New America Media reported that some politicians have realized that Harry’s case (as well as the death of Private Danny Chen) shows that there needs to be concrete policy change within the military, and have taken some action in response. In January, NYC Councilmember Margaret Chin passed a resolution for the Army to implement better cultural-sensitivity training.

And just this past week, California Congresswoman Judy Chu, who is related to Henry Lew, joined several other representatives in signing a letter asking the House Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on hazing in the military.

But policy change won’t happen in time for the trial of the third marine accused of hazing Harry, Lance Cpl. Carlos Orozco III, coming up in several weeks. In the meantime, there’s actually a petition going around for the resentencing of Jacoby, comparing this case to that of Vincent Chin (in which the accused simply paid $3000, without any jail time):

Now in 2012, Navy Capt. Carrie Stephens has “re-evaluated” the life of another Asian American man to be only worth 30 days in jail and a rank demotion to a position that still carries the words ‘First Class.’

While there isn’t “evidence” that Harry was attacked because of his race (and Judge Stephens wasn’t exactly evaluating the worth of an Asian American life), could it be just a coincidence that both Danny Chen and Harry were hazed, and that both ended their lives after being brutalized?

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About Mina

I'm a compilation of lots of identities: japanese/hong kongnese immigrant, APIA, (fierce) womyn of color and third culture kid (TCK). And when I grow up, I want to be just like Yuri Kochiyama #BlueScholars
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