Philadelphia, PA - A U.S. Army serviceman, Austin Freni, age 19, who is home on leave, was brutally beaten on Sunday for wearing his Army jacket.
He remains in the hospital due to his injuries and is unable to join his squad for a scheduled deployment.
According to The Washington Times, The incident happened in the 400 block of Oregon Avenue about 11:09 PM. The native of New Jersey is assigned to Ft. Benning, Georgia. He, his girlfriend, and his mother went to the Mummer's Parade on New Year's Day. His mother Lori said that the serviceman was attacked by a mob of 15 men after one of the men made a sarcastic comment about his Army jacket. After a brief exchange of words, Austin Freni was struck in the face and the attack began.
His mother also said "Me and his girlfriend tried pulling them off and they hit us. We got hit in the face. She got thrown in the street. He’s got to get plates put in his jaw and his mouth will be wired shut for the next eight weeks.” The serviceman's father died recently of brain cancer.
The South Detective Division of the Philadelphia Police Department is conducting the investigation, which is ongoing. Through tears, Austin's mother also said “How anyone can put down the military makes no sense to me.. These are guys that give up their lives to fight for our freedom and you’re going to beat them down?”
Austin Freni is recovering at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia with severe facial injuries It is unknown how long he will remain in the hospital but he is facing surgery. He is listed in good condition. His coming home was a pre-Christmas surprise arranged by a stranger after his mother struggled to pay for the airfare, according to Fox News.
We should be thanking men like Austin Freni who serve in our military. Instead, a group with a thug mentality called him out for wearing his Army jacket and then viciously attacked him. No suspect information has been released by the Philadelphia PD. This attack is unacceptable, and we hope those responsible are soon brought to justice. Our thoughts and prayers are with Austin Freni and his family.
Should attacks targeting military members be considered a hate crime? Please let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below.