FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lisa Moniz holds a picture of her son, Pvt. Ja Van Yiu Lin, who says he was abused during Army basic training in Fort Sill, Okla.
Army says drill sergeant ‘acted inappropriately’
The Army has acknowledged that a Fort Sill drill sergeant in Oklahoma acted out of "anger" when he injured a 19-year-old Hawaii Army National Guard soldier who had just started basic training.
The Army said Pvt. Ja Van Yiu Lin, a May graduate of Waianae High School who started basic training July 10, was hit on the head when a drill sergeant "pushed a desk and a bunk bed that slid into the bunk bed" next to Yiu Lin on July 19.
A Fort Sill spokesman said the Army, despite concluding in its investigation that "the drill sergeant acted inappropriately," will not release the sergeant's name or any punishment he might have received because it is Army policy "to protect the privacy rights of all individuals involved."
A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka said yesterday that "the drill sergeant was removed from training." Yiu Lin's mother had asked Akaka to look into the matter because she was unable to get details after learning that her son was hurt.
Lisa Moniz, Yiu Lin's mother, said yesterday that she got a copy of the report from Akaka's office and not from Fort Sill.
"It was good news to hear it," Moniz said. "I am not ecstatic since I have nothing in writing and don't know if the drill sergeant is going to be let off easily."
She called Fort Sill to complain and was told "the Army's investigation was completed, pending the outcome of the punishment."
Also citing the drill sergeant's privacy rights, the Army told Moniz it cannot say what type of punishment the soldier will get.
Moniz told the Star-Bulletin that her son called her on July 20 complaining of impaired vision in his left eye and hearing problems in his left ear. In that call, Yiu Lin told his mother that the drill sergeant blamed the Hawaii soldier for causing the incident, she said. The Army confirmed that on July 19 and again the following day Yiu Lin was treated at Reynolds Army Community Hospital's emergency room.
Moniz would like the Army to perform an MRI on her son and send the results to his doctor. "We know her (son's doctor) and trust what she will tell us," Moniz added.
According to Akaka spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke, Army officials said Yiu Lin's family was not notified after the incident because the soldier was not admitted to the hospital. The Army told Akaka that family is called only when a soldier is admitted to a hospital. Van Dyke said his office will continue to monitor the situation. The Army said Yiu Lin was treated as an outpatient at Reynolds Army Community Hospital's emergency room on two occasions and that there were follow-up visits twice at a medical clinic.
After his second trip to the clinic on July 22, Yiu Lin was returned to duty with orders exempting him from running or marching for 24 hours.
Yiu Lin is a member of B Battery, 1st Battalion, 355th Regiment. He is taking his 12-week basic and advance training at Fort Sill, located 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. When Yiu Lin returns he will be assigned to the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
According to a summary of the Army investigation, Yiu Lin was taken to the emergency room at Reynolds Army Community Hospital shortly after 1 p.m. July 19, after complaining that his head hurt. "Pvt. Yiu Lin received the appropriate medical attention and was placed on 48 hours quarters (bed rest in his barracks) and given a pain reliever," the statement said.
It wasn't until the night of July 21 that the commander of the 1st Battalion initiated an investigation after his mother, Moniz, made numerous calls to Fort Sill, the Hawaii Army National Guard, and the Red Cross inquiring about her son's condition.
The summary said the battalion commander's investigation revealed that "a drill sergeant pushed a desk and a bunk in anger because there were soldiers from another platoon in his bay (barracks). The bunk slid into another bunk which slid into Pvt. Yiu Lin and hit him. The drill sergeant didn't notice Pvt. Yiu Lin's presence two bunks away from him because he was focused on removing the two privates who were not part of his platoon and did not intend for the bunk to strike him."
The report added: "The battalion commander concluded the drill sergeant acted inappropriately, and will take the action that he deems necessary and proper to address the matter. However, such behavior by drill sergeants is not acceptable nor is it tolerated by the Fort Sill command."
The report was reviewed and approved by Col. Richard Bowyer, who commands the 434th Artillery Brigade which is the training unit that Yiu Lin is assigned to at Fort Sill.
Yiu Lin's wife, Angela, said her husband called her Tuesday and said, "I still feel pain in my head and my vision is still off."
He told his wife during the brief phone call he still wants to remain in the Army.
Moniz said her son told her that he was ordered to read a Tuesday Star-Bulletin story about his situation aloud to his platoon. She said her son didn't know why he was ordered to do that.