Korean group says four GIs were reprimanded for fatal convoy incident
December 21, 2002
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A published report last week indicated that four soldiers have been reprimanded for the armored vehicle accident that killed two South Korean girls.
But U.S. Forces Korea officials declined comment on the report.
A South Korean lawyers’ group, the Constitutional Law Advocates, placed an ad in the Dec. 12 issue of South Korea’s largest daily newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, saying four soldiers were punished.
The ad praised the U.S. military for its handling of the incident, noting that a company commander, first sergeant, platoon officer and platoon sergeant were reprimanded by former 2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Russell Honoré on July 18 for not performing proper safety checks. The ad cited no source for that information.
Some lawyers in the group have represented U.S. servicemembers charged with crimes in South Korean courts.
On Dec. 17, the Korea Times reported that “written reprimands and other disciplinary actions” were given as early as July. The report cited an unnamed female USFK spokesperson.
“We have not … confirmed whether anybody got reprimanded,” said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, 8th Army public affairs officer. “What we have said all along is certain individuals have received adverse administrative actions, and we are staying with that comment.”
He said all three USFK spokeswomen have denied making the statement.
Boylan also said release of information about administrative actions would violate the Privacy Act, a U.S. law that prohibits release of certain personnel information. The Army has said the number of people punished couldn’t be released because people could conclude who was punished, thus violating the Privacy Act.
Air Force Lt. Col. Michael G. Caldwell, USFK deputy public affairs officer, also said the release of such information would be illegal. Administrative actions are part of a soldier’s personnel record and are not part of the public record, he said.
Two soldiers were court-martialed and acquitted of negligent homicide charges in November. After the verdict, Sgt. Mark Walker, the vehicle’s driver, and Sgt. Fernando Nino, its commander, were transferred out of the country for their safety, according to Maj. Brian Maka, 2ID public affairs officer.
No other criminal charges were brought against officers and soldiers in Walker’s and Nino’s chain-of-command.
The deaths of the two South Korean girls polarized many against the U.S. military. Protesters have thrown Molotov cocktails, clipped gate fences and blitzed base defenses during demonstrations.
U.S. soldiers also have been targeted, including Boylan. He was attacked Sunday at knifepoint by three South Korean men but escaped serious injury. But he said he did not know if he was attacked out of protest.