General: Alcohol abuse is threat to safe holiday
May 21, 2007
SEOUL — U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell warned his community that the biggest challenge during the Memorial Day weekend is potential alcohol abuse.
“Abuse of alcohol can lead to a range of indisciplined behavior, including sexual assault, assaults on other military personnel, spouses, or even our good Korean neighbors,” Bell stated in a recent “Memorial Day Safety Message.”
Bell wrote that leaders are responsible for their troops’ behavior at all times and that no servicemember should be released from duty without being counseled by a first-line supervisor.
“Commanders and leaders are responsible to ensure this Memorial Day weekend is incident free across their commands and organizations,” Bell wrote. “We are accountable.”
Bell added that leadership, discipline, risk management and compliance with laws and regulations “can ensure that the joy of this holiday does not turn into tragedy.”
He released a similar message in early February, just prior to a long weekend celebrating President’s Day and the Korean Lunar New Year.
In that message, Bell wrote that he was seeing a “statistical increase in servicemember misconduct, particularly involving underage drinking, alcohol abuse, curfew violation and sexual assault.”
He called the behavior unacceptable and wants the troops to know about potential lifelong negative consequences they could face.
Several U.S. troops have found themselves in the South Korean court system recently following misconduct on holiday weekends.
Army Pvt. Geronimo Ramirez was sentenced March 9 to four years in prison for beating, sodomizing and raping a 67-year-old woman after he spent the night drinking in Seoul’s Hongdae entertainment district over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
And three other soldiers were found guilty of various charges in relation to a brawl in Itaewon’s U.N. Club over November’s Veterans Day weekend.
Two soldiers — Pvt. Sylvester Antely Clark, 19, and Spc. Tydes Whiten, 27 — were sentenced to 18 months in prison for punching and striking a U.N. Club bouncer with beer bottles during the fight. The judge suspended both sentences.
Pfc. Mario Duprey, convicted of assaulting a police officer, was fined the equivalent of about $3,000.