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Family Of Dead Soldier From Chinatown Believe He May Have Been Harassed And Beaten

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is more heartbreak for a family from Chinatown whose son died in Afghanistan.

Private Danny Chen died last week at just 19. He was found in his barracks with non-combat injuries. On Tuesday, CBS 2's Cindy Hsu met with his parents at the American Legion in Chinatown.

Chen's mother was in tears as she showed pictures of her son, who dreamed of serving in the military since he was a child. What makes the heartbreak even more painful is what the family found out shortly after learning of his death.

Through a translator his parents said someone within their son's unit told the family that Chen had been beaten up by fellow soldiers.

Translator Frank Gee said the family was told that Chen was "harassed and beaten up by six soldiers."

The family said they were told it was over Chen not shutting off the water, but his father had been concerned Chen faced race problems in the Army and had asked his son about it.

"They asked the question, specifically, are you discriminated against because you're Chinese or whatever.' Danny said I would rather not answer that question," translator Gee told Hsu.

The Army's Criminal Investigation Division is now trying to get answers surrounding Chen's death, but said "any discussion of possible contributing factors would be premature at this point. Rest assured that a thorough investigation is being conducted."

Chen enlisted in the Army just 10 months ago and while his family was against the idea, especially since they had only one child, his aunt said there was no stopping him.

"He want to save the country -- something like that. He really loved the country," Lucy Chen said.

The funeral will be held in Chinatown on Thursday and Army investigators said they may know the cause of Private Chen's death within the next few days.

The family said Chen never complained about any problems he was having in the Army. His ultimate dream was to serve for a few years and then become an officer with the NYPD.

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