Soldier sentenced in Yongsan Garrison barracks attack
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A 21-year-old soldier was sentenced to 13 years of confinement Wednesday after pleading guilty to charges he was part of an attack that left another soldier with brain damage.
A plea agreement made before the trial means Pfc. Henry Hall, of Charleston, Mo., will serve only 10 years.
Hall said at his court-martial he punched Spc. Eric Huff in December to prove to teasing friends he didn’t “hit like a girl.”
Hall said he froze as two other soldiers — already convicted on similar charges from the same assault — began beating and stomping on Huff’s head once he was lying on the ground outside his barracks on Camp Coiner, a base inside the garrison.
As the violence escalated, Hall said, he tried to stop it. “I thought they was going to kill him,” he told the judge, Army Col. Patrick Parrish of the 6th Judicial Circuit, in court Wednesday.
Hall, of the 305th Quartermaster Company, pleaded guilty to five specifications within five charges: conspiracy to commit assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm; maiming; assault; drinking alcohol under the lawful age; and making a false statement to investigators.
Without the plea agreement, he’d faced a maximum 17 years and six months in confinement. He also was demoted to the military’s lowest pay grade and will receive a dishonorable discharge.
Hall has remained on active duty in a confinement facility since Dec. 10.
After the fight that December night, Hall and the two other men — Pfc. Demetry L. Randall and Pvt. Rodney A. Brackens — left Huff and did not summon medical help, Hall told the court.
Huff suffered neurological damage, he and his parents testified Wednesday.
While dressing for court Wednesday morning, he couldn’t fasten one of his buttons on his dress uniform, according to his mother, Deborah Huff.
“You never imagine seeing anything like that,” she testified through tears. “These things could happen at war … but … I don’t know why a soldier would do that to another soldier.”
Hall told the court that after coming to South Korea, he stopped going to church but began drinking and going with friends he knew liked to fight.
“I just wanted to be with the crowd,” Hall testified, “instead of doing what I was raised to do.”
On Dec. 9, Hall, Brackens, Randall and a few other friends were walking back on base near midnight from dancing in Itaewon.
When they encountered two other soldiers, Hall told the court, Randall dared him to punch one. Hall did and the group ran to their barracks — where, Hall told the court, Randall began teasing that he “hit like a girl.”
Brackens, who’d avoided the first confrontation, said he wanted to hit someone, too, Hall testified. The three agreed to hit they next person they saw.
Hall knocked on Huff’s barracks door. When Huff left the room to talk to the men, “I hauled off and I punched him,” Hall told the judge. “I was trying to knock him out, sir.”
Randall and Brackens both jumped on Huff, Hall said in court, adding that he pulled Randall off and restrained Brackens.
On Wednesday, Hall apologized to Huff and his family, saying, “I pray every day for him.… I just wish I could change a mistake. I gotta live with it.”