By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com May 15 2003 12:00 AM ET
The parents of a soldier who was beaten to death at Fort Campbell, Ky., are trying to block the promotion of the Army base's former commanding general. Patricia and Wally Kutteles, of Kansas City, Mo., met Tuesday at the Pentagon with Maj. Gen. Robert T. Clark, whom the Bush administration has renominated for a third star and promotion. Clark sought the meeting to discuss the 1999 killing of Pfc. Barry Winchell, who was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat by a fellow soldier who believed Winchell was gay. "General Clark still did not take any responsibility and still did not even say he was sorry he hadn't reached out to us," said Patricia Kutteles. She says that as commanding general at Fort Campbell, Clark did not do enough to stop antigay harassment on the base. Army spokeswoman Elaine Kanellis would not comment on the meeting, saying Clark wanted it kept private. Of his potential promotion, she said, "The Army stands behind his nomination."
In a handwritten letter to Winchell's mother last month, Clark wrote, "I am sincerely interested in talking to you for as long as you like in hopes that we can resolve any issues and misunderstandings that still exist and that I can address." The Kutteleses remain opposed to Clark's promotion and plan to make their views known when they appear Wednesday before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has control over Clark's nomination. It is the second try for President Bush's nominee, whose promotion stalled last year because of the Winchell slaying. Clark is up for a third star, which would make him a lieutenant general, and for a promotion to commanding general of the Fifth United States Army at Fort Sam Houston, Tex., where he is deputy commanding general.
Winchell died in July 1999 at age 21. Pvt. Calvin Glover of Sulphur, Okla., was sentenced to life in prison for the murder, and Spc. Justin Fisher of Lincoln, Neb., was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for his part in the murder and lying to investigators. An internal investigation turned up evidence of antigay behavior in Winchell's unit. However, the Army's inspector general concluded that the chain of command at Fort Campbell appropriately enforced the Pentagon's policy of permitting gays to serve in the military, as long as they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.