After being struck on the chest with a large wooden mallet during an unofficial hazing ritual, the soldier took a few steps and collapsed. The 22-year-old suffered a seizure and a cut to the head from the fall that required staples.
The incident took place at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on April 4 but did not become public until Thursday when WWMT aired the video of the hazing. The video was given to the television station by the soldier's father.
The video shows Sgt. Philip Roach standing up straight while another soldier takes a few practice swings. The soldier, one of Roach's superiors, then strikes Roach in the chest with the large wooden mallet. Roach staggers back, bounces off the wall and stands up again while shaking hands with the soldier who struck him. He then takes a couple of steps forward and collapses, hitting his head on a chair before ending up motionless on the floor.
The video, taken by another of Roach's superiors, ends with him unconscious on the floor but Roach later had seizure. The hazing ceremony was conducted after Roach was promoted from specialist to sergeant.
Roach was hospitalized for the seizure and for cuts sustained to his head from the fall. The sergeant, who has been in the military for five years and is a member of the the 82nd Airborne, operated an unmanned aerial vehicle but has not been medically fit for his job since the hazing.
Roach's fiancee, who was a soldier but has since been honorably discharged from the military, was present and bent down to help him. No one else in the room, including his superior officers, did anything to assist the injured man.
Ken Roach, the soldier's father who served in the U.S. military for eight years, said he knew his son would encounter risks when he enlisted but told Associated Press, "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."
The senior Roach wrote to President Obama and received a response back from the military. As reported by WISH TV, the military acknowledged the "unauthorized hazing" and referred to the hazing as a "clear incident of hazing that caused injury to a great soldier."
The sergeant's father was also told the soldier who swung the mallet was fined $1,000 and received a reprimand for a simple assault. Ken Roach feels that was not enough and the soldier who injured his son should be formally charged. He is quoted in the Battle Creek Enquirer as saying, "It was assault with a weapon—he could have killed my son."
The day after the video aired, Carl Levin, a U.S senator from Roach's home state of Michigan and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement: I am very concerned about this hazing incident and I am asking the Army to urgently review it. Preventing and responding to incidents of hazing is a leadership issue that requires action at senior levels of the Army. Earlier this year, the Senate Armed Services Committee, which I chair, adopted a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 that requires service secretaries, in consultation with the service chiefs, to report to the committee on hazing in their services.
Fearing retribution, neither Sgt. Roach nor his fiancee will comment publicly on the incident.