FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) -- The departing commander of Fort Campbell, where a gay private was bludgeoned to death by another soldier last July, said today there hasn't been a climate of homophobia during his nearly 2 1/2 years in charge of the Army base.
Maj. Gen. Robert T. Clark also denied he has tolerated anti-gay harassment among his soldiers or done little to prevent it.
In a letter made public Thursday, 30 members of Congress urged Defense Secretary William Cohen to take action against Clark, who is being reassigned to the Pentagon.
''I object to being characterized the way I have been characterized by people who don't have a clue as to who I am as a human being or who I am as a commander,'' Clark said.
The lawmakers said in their letter that Clark ''is responsible for tolerating anti-gay harassment on the post'' prior to the murder of Pfc. Barry Winchell ''and for doing little in the wake of the murder to stop this type of harassment.''
''That's an absolutely false statement,'' Clark said at a news conference prior to a change-of-command ceremony at the post.
''My style as a commander is well known throughout the Army,'' he said. ''There are thousands of people in the United States Army who know me and know what I am like as a leader.''
Winchell was beaten to death with a baseball bat by a fellow soldier after his homosexuality became known.
The Army announced earlier this week that Clark is being reassigned to the post of vice director for operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an important job in the Pentagon.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said Thursday that Clark would start the new job in a couple of weeks; today is his last day in command at Fort Campbell.
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