Another Chinese Soldier Dead by Gunshot: Is it Suicide Again?

NCOIC Kevin Yeung (Photo via World Journal)

NCOIC Kevin Yeung (Photo via World Journal)

Kevin Yeung, a 27-year-old Chinese soldier, died from a gunshot to his head while he was on duty at a park in Colorado Springs. The military told his family it might be suicide. But his parents, who live in New York, don’t believe their son would kill himself two days before his birthday and when he was scheduled to be discharged from the military in August. They said after their son’s funeral on March 29 that they plan to hire a lawyer to dig out the truth.

Zhigen Yeung, his father, said military representatives came to his home at about 7:30 on the night of March 16 and told him their son died from a gunshot to the head, and it might be suicide. “They told me Kevin was found dead in his car by park visitors at about 9 a.m. that morning in the park where he was on duty,” the father said at his New York home.

He said he couldn’t believe the heartbreaking news, and he said it’s impossible that his son would commit suicide. “He came back and spent four days at home during the New Year. And he would be discharged in August. He told me: ‘Dad, after I am discharged, I want to go to study solar energy.’ He said solar energy is picking up in Washington, and he planned to move there after his discharge. There was no reason for him to suddenly commit suicide on March 16,” the father said.

Yeung said he never heard his son had been hazed in the military, but he did mention he couldn’t get along with his supervisor and had argued with his supervisor over unreasonable duty arrangements. But the father said he doesn’t believe his son would kill himself for this. He said Kevin had not called home in the two months before his death. “I wanted to call him on a regular basis. But he said it’s not convenient to answer a phone call in the military. If necessary he would call us,” said Yeung. “He was really close to his sister. They often traded emails.”

Yeung said he believed Kevin would be back home in August, so he never asked Kevin for the phone numbers of his friends. Kevin is clearly a source of pride to his father. Yeung said his son had been smart from a young age. When he graduated from Stuyvesant High School, he got a full scholarship that supported his four-year college studies at Cooper Union. He also worked for financial companies including IntegriDATA Business & Technology Solutions, LLC.

“He decided to join the military after working for a few years. I told him the military is a choice for people who are not highly educated or cannot find a job. But he liked it, and I couldn’t make the decision for him,” the father said.

Kevin was an orphan from Shanghai and he was adopted by his adoptive parents in Flushing, Queens, when he was four. He had a happy childhood. His adoptive parents eventually divorced  and his mother received guardianship, but he maintained a close relationship with his father.

On Feb. 25, 2013, Kevin realized his military dream and was deployed to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. He died there three years later. He worked as an intelligence analyst from February 2013 to November 2015 and had communicated with the military in Afghanistan. He received five honorary medals during the period. In November 2015, he was promoted to be a security manager. A month later he became a NCOIC Supervisor of Rear Detachment Squadron S2.

Kevin’s father still cannot believe his son has died. “I asked the military people, he spent three years there and he was about to return home, why would he commit suicide now?” Yeung said. “I don’t care about compensation. I want the truth.”

The case reminds people in the Chinese community of the death of Chinese soldier Danny Chen who died in October 2011 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a private in the Army when he was 19. In Chen’s case, the military also told his disbelieving family he committed suicide. And the truth only came out after the case triggered distress and concern in the Chinese community nationwide. Under mounting pressure from the public, the military eventually admitted that Chen was hazed by his peers on a daily basis when he was on duty in Afghanistan and that he killed himself rather than endure the continuing mistreatment.

Eight military officers and soldiers involved were charged with various crimes by the Army.

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