Drill sergeant injures Wai’anae recruit

Article URL: http://archives.starbulletin.com/2008/07/29/news/story02.html

No answers yet for mom

An Army drill sergeant allegedly hits a Waianae recruit in the head


A Fort Sill basic-training drill sergeant in Oklahoma has been suspended from his duties while the Army investigates allegations that he injured a 19-year-old Hawaii Army National Guard soldier by striking him with a bed.

Pvt. Ja Van Yiu Lin last week called his mother Lisa Moniz in Waianae, saying he had trouble hearing out of his left ear and seeing out of his left eye. After several days of failing to get answers on her son’s condition from Fort Sill and Hawaii Army National Guard recruiters, Moniz turned to U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Yiu Lin graduated from Waianae High School in May and left for basic and advance artillery training at Fort Sill, about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, on July 10.


By Gregg K. Kakesako

The Army is investigating a complaint that a drill sergeant in Oklahoma threw a bed at a 19-year-old Hawaii Army National Guard soldier, hitting him in the head and impairing his vision and hearing.

Lisa Moniz told the Star-Bulletin that her son — Hawaii Army National Guard Pvt. Ja Van Yiu Lin — was injured July 19 by his drill sergeant.

Yesterday, Moniz said she hasn’t heard from him for nearly a week and no one from the Army has given her any details as to the extent of his injuries.

Moniz said her son told her in a phone call July 19 that he was standing at attention when his drill sergeant, who was “yelling at the recruits,” picked up a bunk bed and threw it, hitting Yiu Lin in the head.

“My son doesn’t remember anything after until he was in the hospital,” Moniz said.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, whom Moniz called for help last week, and the Hawaii Army National Guard confirmed that Yiu Lin has returned to his basic-training unit at Fort Sill and that the incident is being investigated.

Jon Long, a Fort Sill spokesman, said yesterday that a report of the incident is being reviewed by the brigade commander.

In an e-mail, Long said that while the investigation is being conducted, the “drill sergeant has been temporarily prohibited from taking part” in training soldiers.

He said Yiu Lin was returned to duty last Tuesday after two follow-up visits to Bleak Troop Medical Clinic “to perform training with the exception of running or marching” for one day. He said Yiu Lin had been treated July 19 and 20 at the emergency room at Reynolds Community Hospital and released.

Long did not release any other details.

Yiu Lin graduated from Waianae High School in May and left July 10 for basic and advance artillery training at Fort Sill, located near Lawton about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. He was assigned to Battery B, 1st Battalion, 355th Regiment.

During the July 19 phone call, Moniz said, her son complained that the vision in his left eye was impaired and hearing in his left ear was limited.

“The pain in his head was unbearable, but the doctor told him that his CT scan was normal and to go back to training,” Moniz said.

Because Army and Hawaii Army National Guard officials did not notify her about her son’s accident, Moniz said she tried unsuccessfully on July 20 to call them. Finally, a Red Cross representative said Army officials at Fort Sill would call her.

Moniz said her son called her again while at the hospital on July 20 using a cell phone belonging to another recruit.

Moniz said her son had to return to the hospital on July 20 because of “intense pain” and bleeding from his nose. This time, he was told that he might have a concussion and was given a painkiller and released.

In that call, Moniz said, her son pleaded for help “because the pain was unbearable.” He said he was told by the drill sergeant that he was at fault and then the connection was lost, she said.

On July 21, Moniz said, Sgt. Brooks Akana of the Hawaii Army National Guard told her that “there was an investigation going on and that on completion of the investigation, he would let me know.”

On that same day, Moniz said, because she still didn’t know the extent of her son’s injuries, she also tried to contact him at Fort Sill. “I was assured by a sergeant who said, ‘Your son is fine. He’s out on duty.'”

Moniz wasn’t satisfied with that answer and called Akaka’s Honolulu office on July 21 and asked the senator to look into the matter.

Later that day, Yiu Lin called his mother saying he was in sick bay and that he couldn’t see out of his left eye, his hearing was muffled in his left ear and there was still intense pain. A Fort Sill spokesman said that from July 21 to 22, Yiu Lin was placed “on quarters (bed rest in his barracks).”

On the afternoon of last Tuesday, Moniz said an Army lieutenant colonel called her from Fort Sill and said, “I assure you … that your soldier is fine.”

Yiu Lin was in the room, Moniz said, and was allowed to talk to her. However, because there were other people in the room, Yiu Lin felt that he couldn’t talk, she said.

“OK, just say yes or no,” Moniz told her son. “Are you OK?” she asked her son. His reply was no.

“Healthwise, are you feeling better?” His reply again was no.

“Do you want me to continue to ask for help?”

Yiu Lin’s response was: “Please, Mom.”

At that point, the soldier was told to say his goodbyes.

On Wednesday, Yiu Lin’s wife, Angela, was told by Hawaii Army National Guard recruiters that an investigation was under way and that they wanted Moniz to stop calling Fort Sill.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An Army drill sergeant allegedly hit a National Guard recruit from Waianae in the head with a bed at Army basic training at Fort Sill, Okla. Originally, the sub-headline on this article incorrectly said the drill sergeant was with the Guard. Also, a photo caption incorrectly said the training was conducted by the Army National Guard.

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