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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 5

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2011

TODAY IN HISTORY:
PFC Barry Winchell Murdered: 1999. He had enlisted in the Army in 1997 and was transferred to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in 1999 where he was assigned to the 2/502nd Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division. He learned to fire a .50-caliber machine gun so well that he became the best marksman in his company. He hoped one day to become a helicopter pilot, but that dream was cut short, brutally, on July 5, 1999 when he was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat as he was sleeping in his cot in the barracks. Pvt Calvin Glover, 18, was arrested and charged with Winchell’s murder after admitting to the beating. While in custody, he made several disparaging remarks about blacks and gays to another prisoner.

The investigation and trial laid bare the massive failures of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in providing what was supposed to be a more enlightened approach to homosexuality in the armed forces. In the ensuing investigation, Sgt Eric Dubielak testified that he knew that Winchell had been experiencing daily harassment from fellow soldiers over rumors of his homosexuality, rumors that had been fueled by Winchell’s roommate, Spc. Justin Fisher, when Winchell began dating an MtF transgender woman from Nashville. But Dubielak never intervened, nor did any of the other superior officers who admitted that they were aware of the abuse. “Nothing was done, sir,” said Sgt. Michael Kleifgen, who told of one fruitless effort to complain to the post’s inspector general when a master sergeant referred to Winchell as “that faggot.” But when asked why he himself didn’t order his platoon members to stop harassing Winchell, Kleifgen responded, “Everybody was having fun.” Winchell himself couldn’t complain without violating the “Don’t Tell” part of the military’s ineffectual DADT policy.

Glover was eventually court marshaled and given a lifetime sentence. He is still behind bars. Fisher, who had goaded Glover into attacking Winchell and participated in an attempted cover-up, was sentenced to 12½ years in prison and was released in 2006. But Ft. Campbell’s commanding officer at the time of the murder, Major General Robert T. Clark, refused to take responsibility for the anti-gay climate under his command. But the Defense Department under President George W. Bush exonerated Clark of any wrongdoing, and he was promoted to Lieutenant General in 2003.

The year 2003 also saw the release of the Peabody Award-winning film film for Showtime, Soldier’s Girl, which portrayed the romance between Winchell and Calpernia Addams which led up to Winchell’s murder.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

Comments

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JFE
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

These histories are excellent. We all constantly need reminders of what has come before us.

Timothy (TRiG)
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

I’ll second that.

TRiG.

Lindoro Almaviva
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

and I am going to say that if you have never seen Soldier’s Girl you need to pick it up and watch it. It is a beautiful movie.

Soren456
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

It should be “court-martialed.”

Regan DuCasse
July 5th, 2011 | LINK

Lindoro is right. It was magnificently acted, and I heard from the source, that it was well researched and accurately told.
The special features on the DVD include powerful interviews with Winchell’s mother and with his girlfriend.

The two women who loved him most in this world and who he loved most in the world.
A heart breaker for sure. Winchell, was SO young…

justme
July 6th, 2011 | LINK

It should be emphasized that Barry Winchell was not homosexual, as was demonstrated by the fact that he was dating a woman. The fact that his murderer believed him to be homosexual and murdered him for it also does not make it true.

I have no idea how DADT impacts military persons who are involved in opposite-sex relationships with trans partners, but an opposite-sex relationship by definition is not homosexual.

Timothy Kincaid
July 6th, 2011 | LINK

justme,

It is true that quite often the victim of anti-gay violence isn’t gay. And for that reason, hate-crimes tracking and anti-discrimination laws are based on perception as well as group identity.

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