DETROIT (AP) — A soldier from Michigan who was struck with a large, wooden mallet at his Army base in North Carolina was seriously injured, his father said, expressing anger and shock that the incident was allowed to occur.
Ken Roach of Battle Creek said his son, Sgt. Phillip Roach, was hurt at Fort Bragg during what the Army later called an unauthorized "hazing" event to mark his promotion to sergeant. The 22-year-old knocked his head on the cement after getting hit, causing a seizure and head wound that required six staples, his father said.
"I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd be contacted by anybody that my son had a seizure and was hit in the chest during a hazing incident," he told The Associated Press on Friday.
Video of the incident first obtained by WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo shows Roach receiving the blow after another solider takes three measured, practice swings at this chest. Roach stumbles after being struck, then collapses after shaking the hand of the mallet-wielding soldier.
The incident occurred April 4. In a letter he received in early June, Ken Roach said the Army called the incident "hazing" and that the soldier who was responsible received a $1,000 fine and a reprimand citing a simple assault. Ken Roach, an Army veteran himself, said he would like to see formal assault charges brought.
"It was assault with a weapon — he could have killed my son," he said, adding that his son, who operates unmanned aerial vehicles with the 82nd Airborne, has been unable to perform those duties until he is "cleared by a doctor."
Ken Roach said his son's fiancée, who also was a soldier but since has been honorably discharged, was at the event, and that she and his son both fear retribution over the incident and don't want to publicly comment.
Fort Bragg officials didn't immediately return after-hours phone messages Friday.
Michigan Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told WWMT that he's "very concerned about this hazing incident" and has asked the Army to review what happened.
Ken Roach, who served in the Army from 1982 to 1990, said he has spoken to the 82nd brigadier general and a brigade commander about the incident and subsequent mistreatment of his son. The father said the commander told him he would "speak with the chain of command to try and get my son to feel more comfortable."
Roach said he's looking after the welfare of his son. He said he son told him during his junior year at Battle Creek Central High School that he wanted to join the Army "so he could serve under the flag and fight for the freedom of the United States."