Robert Bogucki

Submitted: Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 00:48
ThreadID: 110255 Views:4527 Replies:8 FollowUps:18
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Robert is an Alaskan fireman who wandered off into the Great Sandy Desert looking for some sort of spritual fulfilment in 1999. This updated doco called Miracle in the Desert was broadcast on ABC2 last weekend.

There was an earlier doco some years ago.

Both used some original TV footage.

It really is a fascinating story and should be essential viewing for EO Forumites. It is available on ABC Iview until December 7th.

Highly recommended.
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Reply By: MactrolPod - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 06:31

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 06:31
That was a very interesting story.
I can not stand the way some Americans have to be over the top showmen, but in this case the "rescue team" generated enough publicity to attract news crews and their helicopters.
Amazing how Robert went 12 days without water, then when they found him he was at a good supply and drinking "dirty" water also was in relatively good shape.
The Americans were not real happy about not "finding" him themselves, it was a good doco for sure.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 08:46

Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 08:46
yes I always said .. the media had a field day bagging garrison st clare. the dogs with thier booties.etc
then crowed it wasnt even the yank sar team that found him.
they never seemed to get the credit locally for being the reason Robert was found alive
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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 09:25

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 09:25
I had the pleasure on being on a trip in 2010 with none other than Forumite Equinox (Aka David Carnegie Junior).

He took us to the very spot were Bogucki was rescued, and yes we found murky water in the pool he used at the last.

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Follow Up By: Phil B (WA) - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 09:26

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 09:26
Oops 2011 not 2010.
There is a lot of difference between
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Follow Up By: equinox - Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 20:27

Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 20:27
That was an enjoyable research project.
Here's the picture from the paper at the time.

Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.

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Follow Up By: Mick T3 - Friday, Nov 28, 2014 at 19:04

Friday, Nov 28, 2014 at 19:04
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

You are one kind fellow, Phil B.
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Reply By: Grumblebum and the Dragon - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 10:12

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 10:12
Some clowns should not be allowed to leave home much less wander off into the desert rejoicing to find 'spiritual whatever' and in so doing put other people at risk trying rescue them.

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Follow Up By: MactrolPod - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 11:12

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 11:12
I'm probably be bit of a fence sitter with this, your point is very valid.

As the rescuers spend so much time in training, to actually put those skills into action in a real event and get a good result must be so satisfying.

Plus the lessons learnt can be implemented into their skills as well.

The family did contribute to some of the costs, probably not a large percent of the actual money spent. But a least they did something.

This time no one else was hurt etc. so it could be considered a good outcome.
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Follow Up By: Notso - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 14:37

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 14:37
Yeah, the overtime was good too. We would have preferred to spend our whole career training, and to never have to use it in the real situation. To find the person alive is rewarding, to find them otherwise is or can be devastating. Also the ministerial inquiries after the event can get a bit tiresome.
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Reply By: disco driver - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 16:17

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 16:17
Robert Bogucki was a total f'***ing idiot.

Despite advice to the contrary, he took himself off into the desert seeking fulfilment/enlightenment or whatever you like to call it.

He deliberately misinformed people as to where he actually was heading and when the flag went up the search parties were looking in the wrong area initially.

He was dead lucky (pardon the pun) to be found when he was, a few more days and they would be bringing out a corpse.

I don't find it in any way fascinating, I shake my head at the stupidity of the man and the cost of the search programme.

The commercial TV stations made a welter of it all trying to make him a superhero for what he did rather than calling it for what it was................a pointless expensive waste of time and resources.

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Follow Up By: Bigfish - Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 06:35

Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 06:35
I enjoyed the show. Have seen it before. Yes he did do things wrong .

One thing for sure...I,ll bet a years wages most of us on here wouldn,t have lasted half the time he did...
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 18:20

Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 18:20
A bit of insanity is vital I reckon. What a boring place it would be without the likes of Robert Bogucki. He is a bit of a cottage industry providing employment for aboriginal trackers, helicopter pilots, television camera men...the list is a mile long. Then there is the entertainment value, the on the job training for rescue services and valuable lessons in desert survival for documentary viewers. If he stayed at home in Alaska and twiddled his thumbs we couldn't get any kicks bagging him.
I can't wait for the next idiot to do something similar.
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Follow Up By: Mick T3 - Friday, Nov 28, 2014 at 19:00

Friday, Nov 28, 2014 at 19:00
Yeah, how many of us would like to be a Robert Bogucki, just for a day?

I see so many couples with their fancy rigs trawling the bitumen then holing up in sardine caravan parks.

As soon as they know what I'm doing they grab on and want to tag along, but every man has his own journey and an entourage is not always helpful.

As for the rescuers, it's like hunting except you rescue the animal instead of killing it.

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Reply By: Member - Fab72 (Paradise SA) - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 21:04

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 21:04
I often find spiritual fulfilment in the outback.
Birdsville Hotel.
Mt Dare.
Marree Hotel ........

I certainly get my fill of spirits and beer on occasions too.
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Reply By: Ron N - Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 14:30

Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 14:30
The hunt for Robert Bogucki turned into a grubby, money-making expedition by the media - and Channel 9, and the Packer TV network were the grubbiest.

The Channel 9 chopper was sent on on one mission purpose only - to beat the Police, the SES, the other TV stations, and the Yank team, to the greatest money-making story of the 1990's.

The Police and SES incurred substantial amounts of damage to their vehicles and tyres, which had to come out of their annual budget - whereas Channel 9 raked in tens of millions for their "exclusive" - with no interest in sharing any of that return with the people who spent substantial amounts of time, effort and money to find Bogucki.

This just goes to show how media teams need to be tightly controlled when it comes to important searches.
All of these search teams needed to work together - not operate individually, with claims to fame and financial reward, as the primary aim - for finding a clown who should never have had a search initiated for him.
He didn't want to be found, as evidenced by his lack of acknowledgment of the Channel 9 chopper.

I'm amused by the Yanks insinuation that they were responsible for finding Bogucki, when they can't make that claim at all.
This is a classic case of a story where what is not said, is more important than what is said.

American Team brag about finding Bogucki

This ABC Media Watch expose gives a good outline of what a sham and a scam the whole Channel 9 involvement was, in the story.

Media Watch - the finding of Robert Bogucki
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Follow Up By: Road Warrior - Friday, Nov 28, 2014 at 18:30

Friday, Nov 28, 2014 at 18:30
In addition, it would seem (according to this link anyway) that the head of that "1st Special Response Group" was a military fraud:
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Nov 28, 2014 at 19:23

Friday, Nov 28, 2014 at 19:23
Bit of a character alright. Got this cartoon off the doco, when I watched it last night.


Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Nov 29, 2014 at 01:09

Saturday, Nov 29, 2014 at 01:09
Road Warrior - Good detective work there. I love this statement ....

"St. Clair, 51, doesn't dispute the records but won't exactly admit he made up his brash persona either, hinting that his status as some sort of super-secret operative forbids him - or anyone else - from talking."

That is classic WALT stuff. "My work is so secret, the Army has deleted all records of it". Yeah, right! LOL

Another great line ...

"I don't dismiss anything because this guy was so damn bright,'' Michelman said. "He's one of those people who is a people magnet. He's got the gift of gab, so to speak."

Yep, that's the first and major requirement to be a successful BS-artist, and a WALT!

And here's another one I love, too ... this would cut out half the U.S. Army, straight up! LOL

"It struck Barton as strange, for instance, that an officer with Vietnam and Persian Gulf medals would struggle with compass navigation."

Every single thing you do in the Army is recorded for all time. Military records are some of the best-kept records ever. The military specialise in precise record-keeping.

Even if the man had been a "black ops" operative, U.S. Defense officials would merely just confirm he'd served in the military, without releasing details.
People he had served with would come forward, or St Clair would be able to refer to them - military classes he'd attended, officers course, etc etc.

The man is a genuine WALT - but obviously a low-level, relatively innocuous one, with a genuine desire to actually make his name - but that one great famous name-making event, still eludes him!

I must say I'm surprised the American WALT-chasers haven't nailed him for wearing medals to which he's not entitled.
It's obvious his medal claims are faked, and that's generally regarded as a serious offence in any Western country.

Of course, he could always go to Uganda, where fake medals, fake awards, and lashings of gold braid mark the true WALT's of this world!
Someone reminded me the other day that Idi Amin wore a VC!!

The "coercion to make false statements" conviction is correct for E. Garrison St Clair ...

U.S. Federal Appellate Courts - Appeal against "obstruction of justice" conviction by E Garrison St Clair

And E. Garrison St Clair's arrest on the bi-centennial mail fraud is listed in the Lowell, Massachusetts Sun, on page 17 of the April 7, 1976 edition.

The Lowell Sun - "arrested in huge bicentennial fraud"

Interestingly, Obama has only just recently (June 2013) signed into force, the new "Stolen Valor Act", which makes it a Federal crime for people to wear medals that they didn't rightfully obtain.

The previous Stolen Valor Act, passed in 2005, was struck down in June 2012 - when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that lying about military heroics was constitutionally protected speech, unless there was intent to gain some benefit or something of value by fraud.
The new version ensures that people who wear fake medals to gain ANY tangible benefit, can be charged under the Act.

Obama signs new Stolen Valor Act - June 2013

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Saturday, Nov 29, 2014 at 19:25

Saturday, Nov 29, 2014 at 19:25
thats utter and total crap.
the yank sar team were the ONLY reason he was found.
Everyone else had given up and gone home
it wasn't till they came and the media circus followed them round as they homed in on him the media just fed off thier work as they found his location and he was spotted by the media chopper desperately forging ahead in the direction they were heading
they never got that credit in australia.
but ill repeat it
they were the ONLY reason Robert was found alive
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Saturday, Nov 29, 2014 at 20:25

Saturday, Nov 29, 2014 at 20:25
Your post is total BS, getoutmore.

How you can draw that conclusion is beyond me, and probably every other rational person who's looked into this story.

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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 01:08

Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 01:08
No one in Australia was searching for him anymore once the WA police gave up. There is no way you can argue against the fact that the channel 9 chopper was only there because the Americans were there searching for him. Or is there a channel 9 chopper randomly flying around the Great Sandy Desert searching for newsworthy events right now?
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 18:32

Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 18:32
gone bush I suggest you cant remember what happened. exactly what part of the entire search being called off dont you remember?
no one was looking. no helicopters nothing
everyone followed the yanks back out there.
but even then that still wouldn't have helped if the yanks hadn't homed right in on him with the choppers and other intrested partys desperately trying to race the yanks
not sure how hard that is to understand.??
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Monday, Dec 01, 2014 at 08:00

Monday, Dec 01, 2014 at 08:00
An ABC media watch transcript from 1999....
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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 00:24

Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 00:24
Well, I was here in Perth in 1999, and I followed the story daily, and I remember it well.

getoutmore is largely correct, but not 100% correct. The American team turning up was NOT the ONLY reason he was found.


1. The W.A. Police and the other searchers gave up, 12 days after commencing the search.

2. The search was not commenced for a considerable number of days after Bogucki started his trek.

3. The search started when a Gt Northern Hwy traveller found his bicycle abandoned on a track near the Sandfire Roadhouse. This was some days after Bogucki took off.

4. It took another 3 or 4 days to try and establish Bogucki's whereabouts, which involved contacting his parents, plus anyone who had seen or had contact with him, to try and establish his moves, his frame of mind and where he might have gone.

Police immediately suspect you've hitched a ride when they find a mode of transport abandoned - it's not a reason to start an immediate urgent search, just because an abandoned car or bike has been found.

5. The police blacktrackers found his footprints leading into the desert a couple or three days later - so an official W.A. Police search was initiated.
Bogucki had a good 10 days and perhaps even a fortnight jump on his searchers.

6. The W.A. Police search party struggled through a lot of extremely rough tracks and pure desert, trying to follow his trail. WAPOL also used planes in their search. Remember, Bogucki wasn't particularly interested in being found. The black trackers eventually lost his trail in stony country.

7. The W.A. Police and their associated searchers searched for another couple of days and then decided to give up. They had searched for 12 days and were convinced he couldn't have survived. 99% of people certainly wouldn't, and I reckon Bogucki had some luck on his side, too. That luck revolved around heading Northwards to wetter areas, and also having very favourable, mild weather.

8. Bogucki's parents insisted he was still alive, after the official W.A. Police search ended, and organised St Clair to find him.
The Americans rolled up after a few more days and did put in some serious effort, including tracker dogs.

9. At that point, the media decided to join the hunt, sensing a major, major dollar earner.
Choppers are one of the best search instruments, and the media has plenty of them, and the money to run them.
The Americans apparently didn't, which kind of surprised me. They're generally the first to get airborne in choppers.

10. The Americans did find items that Bogucki left behind as he moved - further on from where the W.A. Police left off. I'm not sure how they managed this, a degree of luck must have had some part in it. Maybe they got lucky, maybe their tracker dogs were particularly good.

11. The media were travelling on ahead of St Clairs group with the choppers, scouting around for Bogucki, hoping to spot him first. They did - and there was also a great deal of luck involved here. The Americans were dozens of kms away and certainly wouldn't have caught up with Bogucki for many more days - if at all! The Americans were heading in the right general direction.

12. Once the Channel 9 chopper secured its prize, Bogucki was whipped off to Broome. This was a carefully devised plan, thought out long before Bogucki was found. The Americans were left to try and claim the glory of finding Bogucki. Unfortunately, they couldn't and can't.
They did raise the interest level again on their arrival - and they did resurrect the search.

It's not factually true to say the American search team was the ONLY reason Bogucki was found.
He was found by a Channel 9 chopper that set out to find him - that piggy-backed on the Americans effort, and which leap-frogged their slow ground-bound movements in a big way - and they got lucky as well.

It's a moot point that you could argue about for weeks, whether Bogucki would have turned up at a station - or even Fitzroy Crossing - within a few more days, if he hadn't been found. It's very likely he would have.
He was still in satisfactory shape, if pretty thin, and he wasn't suffering from any health problems or dehydration. He'd found water regularly and he would have found more.
A fit person can go for a long time just on water and little else, and Bogucki was pretty fit.

BBC article - August 1999 - American found after outback odyssey
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 20:15

Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 20:15
thats pretty much my understanding.
my comment relates to the only reason he was found was without the yanks being there and without them being on the trail the media choppers and other crew that also found vital pieces of evidence.... would never have been there.
us Aussies enjoyed deriding thier efforts.. but I definitely maintain they played a huge part in roberts rescue
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 18:53

Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 at 18:53
I'm reading a book called "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer about a young, fit, talented guy (American) who had his heart set on a similar adventure in Alaska. Didn't work out as well as Bogucki's experience.

Worth a read.


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