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Old 11-27-2012, 08:19 AM   #136
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Default If you are out there

Justin - it's a total shot in the dark, but if you are out there and by some twist of fate you find this - please know we love you and miss you very much.

Your sister,
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:42 PM   #137
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Does anyone else find it weird Justin isn't on any missing person website even the Charlie project?
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:10 PM   #138
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Does anyone else find it weird Justin isn't on any missing person website even the Charlie project?

Huh. Good point.
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Old 09-15-2013, 10:12 AM   #139
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I just rewatched this one yesterday, and really don't know what to think about it. First and foremost I do not buy the theory that Burgwinkel was doing some covert secret mission for the military or the CIA or any other branch of government or militia (US or other country). That was laughable, to say the least. The guy was a private and he was assigned to kitchen duty. And as MegtheEgg pointed out earlier in the thread, they usually pick people who are skilled in combat for recruiting in these special outfits. I just don't see how a guy on kitchen duty would fit that bill.

Others have also speculated that Burgwinkel became disillusioned after being kicked out of the Ranger program and being relegated to kitchen duty. Some have said that he began to live out these wild fantasies to mirror the movie "White Sands" and to make it seem like he was more important to his family and friends. There was also speculation that Burgwinkel was suffering from a mental breakdown and was simply making everything up. I do agree with the notion that Burgwinkel became disillusioned after being kicked out of the Ranger Program. But I don't think he had some sort of mental illness that caused him to make everything up in his head. Did he exaggerate to his girlfriend? Probably. Did he want to come off as more important than he really was? Most likely. But he couldn't have made it all up because his girlfriend received a call from a male who said, "the mission is off". That right there is proof that there was at least one other person involved in whatever Burgwinkel was up to.

IMO, Burgwinkel was probably involved in some low level drug dealing or trafficking. He probably got in over his head, knew he couldn't back out or feared discipline from the military, or maybe he was simply ashamed at what he did. That would explain his girlfriend finding him bawling his eyes out in the middle of the night. I doubt drug dealers would have killed him, removed his wallet and his dog tags, dumped the body, ditched his guns, took his car back to a motel, and then put his wallet, dog tags, and his empty briefcase in the trunk of his car. I doubt drug dealers would have gone through that much trouble to "hide" everything if all they wanted to do was kill him. They could have just killed him and hidden the body. Why go through everything else? I think Burgwinkel knew he was going to be disciplined for going AWOL, and that combined with the fact that he had gotten involved in something shady (perhaps to the point that he was in too deep) caused him to ultimately commit suicide. The evidence for murder is not there. There was one phone call made to the girlfriend, but it wasn't a threatening phone call in any way. Other than that phone call, there was never any evidence of some shady drug dealers out to get Burgwinkel. And I think that lends more credence to the suicide theory. Just my 2 cents, anyway.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:35 PM   #140
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I just rewatched this one yesterday, and really don't know what to think about it. First and foremost I do not buy the theory that Burgwinkel was doing some covert secret mission for the military or the CIA or any other branch of government or militia (US or other country). That was laughable, to say the least. The guy was a private and he was assigned to kitchen duty. And as MegtheEgg pointed out earlier in the thread, they usually pick people who are skilled in combat for recruiting in these special outfits. I just don't see how a guy on kitchen duty would fit that bill.

Others have also speculated that Burgwinkel became disillusioned after being kicked out of the Ranger program and being relegated to kitchen duty. Some have said that he began to live out these wild fantasies to mirror the movie "White Sands" and to make it seem like he was more important to his family and friends. There was also speculation that Burgwinkel was suffering from a mental breakdown and was simply making everything up. I do agree with the notion that Burgwinkel became disillusioned after being kicked out of the Ranger Program. But I don't think he had some sort of mental illness that caused him to make everything up in his head. Did he exaggerate to his girlfriend? Probably. Did he want to come off as more important than he really was? Most likely. But he couldn't have made it all up because his girlfriend received a call from a male who said, "the mission is off". That right there is proof that there was at least one other person involved in whatever Burgwinkel was up to.

IMO, Burgwinkel was probably involved in some low level drug dealing or trafficking. He probably got in over his head, knew he couldn't back out or feared discipline from the military, or maybe he was simply ashamed at what he did. That would explain his girlfriend finding him bawling his eyes out in the middle of the night. I doubt drug dealers would have killed him, removed his wallet and his dog tags, dumped the body, ditched his guns, took his car back to a motel, and then put his wallet, dog tags, and his empty briefcase in the trunk of his car. I doubt drug dealers would have gone through that much trouble to "hide" everything if all they wanted to do was kill him. They could have just killed him and hidden the body. Why go through everything else? I think Burgwinkel knew he was going to be disciplined for going AWOL, and that combined with the fact that he had gotten involved in something shady (perhaps to the point that he was in too deep) caused him to ultimately commit suicide. The evidence for murder is not there. There was one phone call made to the girlfriend, but it wasn't a threatening phone call in any way. Other than that phone call, there was never any evidence of some shady drug dealers out to get Burgwinkel. And I think that lends more credence to the suicide theory. Just my 2 cents, anyway.
A few thoughts on Justin Burgwinkel:

1. Ever consistent, UM once again doesn't make clear what Burgwinkel's actual MOS in the Army was.

Burgwinkel could have been an intelligence analyst, a Patriot fire control enhanced operator, an infantryman, or a human resource specialist. Each of those jobs would have different implications in the context of the entire story.

I wasn't in the Army of the early '90s--but I know about the only "kitchen duty" Soldiers do today is in tiny combat outposts such as those in Afghanistan. Dining facilities today are managed and operated by civilian contractors or Soldiers who actually joined the Army TO cook and manage dining facilities (the MOS is 92G: food service specialist). It could have been different in 1993. I don't know.

The main point is that A) we don't know what Burgwinkel actually did in the Army, and B) "kitchen duty" hasn't been an Army garrison reality since probably about the 1960s. It seems more probable to me that Burgwinkel either actually WAS a food service specialist, or was involuntarily re-classed from whatever job he was doing before TO food service specialist, for whatever reason.

2. The "Ranger program" thing is very confusing.

U.S. Army Ranger School is a two-month course held in three phases at three different locations--Ft Benning, GA, Camp Merrill, GA, and Eglin Air Force Base, FL. THIS is the actual course. It is one of the Army's most physically and mentally challenging schools, and the pass rate is low.

Many units hold "pre-Ranger" courses to prepare Soldiers who have received Ranger School slots. These courses usually last anywhere from two to three weeks and serve primarily to give future trainees a small glimpse of what to expect as well as "weed out" anyone who may stand a low chance of graduating. They are "field" training events--that is, you're "in the field" the entire time you're there. You're not going back at night to sleep at home or in barracks.

It should also be noted that completing Ranger School does NOT put you in a "Ranger unit", or mean your actual job is "Army Ranger." Here's how it works:

Joe Snuffy's MOS is 11B: infantryman. Joe's rank is Staff Sergeant, E-6.

SSG Snuffy receives a Ranger School slot. He attends his unit's internal "pre-Ranger" course for two weeks, and then attends the actual Ranger School in Georgia and Florida.

He graduates the course and may now wear a "Ranger" tab on his shoulder to show that he is "qualified"--that is, he successfully passed.

We can now call SSG Snuffy a Ranger, but that is NOT his job. His job is still 11B, infantryman. "Ranger" is a qualification he earned, but not his job.

Here is another example using a different Army course--Airborne School:

Jane Smith is a 35F: intelligence analyst. Her rank is Specialist, E-4.

SPC Smith attends Airborne School at Ft Benning, GA and passes. She may now wear "Airborne wings" on the front of her uniform to show that she is Airborne-qualified.

We may now say SPC Smith is "Airborne", but her job remains the same: intelligence analyst.

Given all this, I don't understand what's meant by the term "Ranger program". About the only thing I can think of is that perhaps Burgwinkel needed, or felt he needed, extensive physical conditioning to prepare for a potential Ranger School slot, and perhaps his unit offered such a program during non-duty hours or as an alternative to regular unit physical training in the morning. This informal thing then took on a very official, serious life when some UM researcher who didn't know a damn thing about the military decided it was a lot more serious and official than what it actually was. I submit that this is likely what occurred.

3. I also don't understand the bit about "language training." Language training isn't part of Ranger School. It IS required, of course, for linguists and many Special Forces specialties, however. Many, many Special Forces Soldiers complete Ranger School prior to their SF training--so perhaps what Burgwinkel ACTUALLY wanted to do was be an SF Soldier. Ranger School would have been a mere stepping stone on that path.


I am in total agreement with Cars that Burgwinkel was actually involved in something real and illegal that may or may not have involved other Soldiers, but ultimately had nothing to do with the Army. I think he also probably had a penchant for exaggerating his military career, as evidenced by the melodramatic "dog tags" story he gave to his girlfriend and his White Sands reference. I think these exaggerations unfortunately caused much confusion in the far-less-military-saavy public of the early '90s, and the government-conspiracy-myth gained legs.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:06 AM   #141
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Joe Snuffy and Jane Smith sound like badasses.
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:14 PM   #142
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Joe Snuffy and Jane Smith sound like badasses.
They're highly motivated Soldiers.
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Old 09-16-2013, 01:56 PM   #143
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They're highly motivated Soldiers.
Back to the topic, what do you think happened to Burgwinkel? Murder? Suicide? Still alive?
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:49 PM   #144
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Back to the topic, what do you think happened to Burgwinkel? Murder? Suicide? Still alive?
I think he's dead. I'm 70-30 on suicide to murder by his associates, whom I believe were probably involved in some criminal activity with Burgwinkel.
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Old 09-16-2013, 03:36 PM   #145
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I think he's dead. I'm 70-30 on suicide to murder by his associates, whom I believe were probably involved in some criminal activity with Burgwinkel.
What's frustruating is the fact that UM left out a lot of details in this case. It would have been fairly easy to figure out who placed the "The mission is off" phone call. A simple check of the phone records would have sufficed. Granted I don't recall how long it was after that phone call was made that Justin went missing, but it just seems like there should be more information to this story that we're not getting.
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Old 09-16-2013, 05:22 PM   #146
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What's frustruating is the fact that UM left out a lot of details in this case. It would have been fairly easy to figure out who placed the "The mission is off" phone call. A simple check of the phone records would have sufficed. Granted I don't recall how long it was after that phone call was made that Justin went missing, but it just seems like there should be more information to this story that we're not getting.
I would have liked to hear elaboration on what kind of Soldier he was. I know we got a little bit from his first sergeant that was generally positive. But when a Soldier misses a report or movement time, you ask him or her lots of questions. You want to know if there's a life circumstance there that's effecting his or her overall well-being. I suppose I wonder what reason Burgwinkel gave for not showing up. I wonder if his work habits began to change. I wonder if his behavior changed. I wonder if he had ever been formally disciplined for anything prior to his instances of going AWOL.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:19 PM   #147
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I think he's dead. I'm 70-30 on suicide to murder by his associates, whom I believe were probably involved in some criminal activity with Burgwinkel.
I also believe he's dead and don't believe it really had anything to do with the Army. It could have been that these associates were also in the army, sure, but I highly doubt any sort of higher level involvement.

I think this could have been a suicide because it appears he was under a ton of pressure and emotionally frayed/paranoid. Sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of the night, for one, and two, pushing around scraps of paper in a suitcase and tearing them further. Perhaps he was afraid of criminal activity catching up with him and those papers were something that could have implicated him and he wanted to tear them up even further to be utterly certain he couldn't be pinned to anything, to the point of paranoia. I also find it possible that the crying/stress could have been a fear that he would have been harmed by these other people. If he was murdered, that could very well be the reason his body has never been found.
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:14 AM   #148
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I would have liked to hear elaboration on what kind of Soldier he was. I know we got a little bit from his first sergeant that was generally positive. But when a Soldier misses a report or movement time, you ask him or her lots of questions. You want to know if there's a life circumstance there that's effecting his or her overall well-being. I suppose I wonder what reason Burgwinkel gave for not showing up. I wonder if his work habits began to change. I wonder if his behavior changed. I wonder if he had ever been formally disciplined for anything prior to his instances of going AWOL.
The segment said he was involved in a shoplifting incident which is why he was kicked out of the ranger program. I believe the segment implies that this incident is what got him transferred and stuck in kitchen duty.
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Old 09-17-2013, 12:34 PM   #149
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I believe the segment implies that this incident is what got him transferred and stuck in kitchen duty.
I never thought the move was related to the shop-lifting incident. That really doesn't make sense to me. If he were being investigated for any incident and Ft Ord was his duty station, he would have stayed at Ft Ord. He also would have been likely reprimanded at Ft Ord. I think his going to Ft Lewis was a regular PCS move--that is, he would have gone with or without the incident. You don't move people to punish them in the Army, despite what I'm sure more than a few Soldiers at Ft Polk will tell you.

I also still don't understand the "kitchen duty" thing. I would really like to know if this was relatively common in 1993. I could see doing something to assist the food service specialists in the kitchen being part of "extra duty" (non-judicial punishment), though. That would imply, however, that Burgwinkel did something at FT LEWIS, not Ord, to earn that punishment. Offenses worthy of non-judicial punishment don't really "follow" you if you're set to move. You're corrected, and THEN you move, usually.

Then again, this WAS 1993, so who knows.


Also, you're in deep crap if you shoplift. That's an offense punishable by UCMJ and will merit you a lot more than extra duty if you're found guilty (although extra duty CAN be part of your sentence). I suppose I wonder what the full extent of any punishment he received was. Often, enlisted are busted down in rank and have to forfeit pay for such offenses--in addition to things like extra duty.

I think it's becoming ever more apparent that UM really did manage to leave all the important stuff out of this segment, and instead seemed to fill it with as much fantasyland secret squirrel conspiracy BS as humanly possible.
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:17 PM   #150
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Just had to go back and rewatch the segment because the online article about Burgwinkel left a lot of information out. Near the beginning, Robert Stack says something like "at the time it seemed like Justin was staging cloak and dagger theatrics to impress his friends" but only after he disappeared did his family begin to take him seriously. That little sentence is pretty telling, IMO. If his friends thought he was bs'ing at the time, that tells me he wasn't very convincing with his story. Especially if his friends could read right through him. The segment also says "Justin was yanked from the prestigious[ranger] program after he was implicated in a shoplifting incident." The segment does not say he was transferred as a disciplinary measure, but it does gloss over the shoplifting incident.
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