Joseph Michael Bushling

joseph_bushling_02Joseph Michael Bushling is a U.S. Army Specialist who went missing around the Dugway Proving Ground area of Utah.  On May 8, 2011, when SPC Bushling was 26 years old, he borrowed a 2011 black in color Mitsubishi Lancer and drove out into the desert. At around 7 PM on the 8th, he called a friend and told him he ran out of gas and would walk back to Dugway Proving Ground.  Joseph Bushling has not been heard of since and a Missing Person Case was opened with the Tooele County Sheriffs Office (Case # 2011-002298).

Joseph Bushling 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 180 to 210 pounds and has brown hair with green eyes.  Joseph has a tribal tattoo on his left bicep from his shoulder going along the outside edge down to his elbow.  Joseph also has an American Flag tattooed on his right shoulder and a Celtic tattoo on his neck.

The vehicle Joseph Bushling was driving was found 6 days later abandoned in a ravine 64 miles from Dugway. Joseph’s hat was also found around the vehicle.

If you have any information about the whereabouts of Joseph Michael Bushling, contact the Tooele County Sheriffs Office, LT Herrea, at 435-882-5600 reference case # 2011-002298

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One thought on “Joseph Michael Bushling

  1. Lisa R.

    SHARING FROM: A Light For The Lost and Missing
    (November 13, 2014)

    Along a dirt road in Tooele County, John
    Sorensen begins a long journey that he
    has been making for more than three years.

    “You still hope. You still want to find him,”
    Sorensen said.

    He leaves the main gates of the Dugway
    Proving Ground every two months in the
    hope he’ll find what no one else has been
    able to in the past: any trace of his friend
    and former co-worker, Joseph Bushling.

    “I believe that he’s out here someplace,”
    Sorensen explained. “I come out and think,
    ‘What have I seen this time? What did we
    miss the last time?’”

    Bushling, 26, was last seen on May 8, 2011,
    driving away from Dugway around 4 a.m.

    “He liked to drive the desert, drive and see
    the scenery,” Sorensen said. “So, I can
    totally believe he would come out here
    and look around.”

    But Bushling never returned. About one
    week later, investigators found his car.

    “The car was found right up there,” said
    Sorensen, pointing into a ravine.

    The 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer that Bushling
    had borrowed from a friend was found
    stuck on a hill, approximately 65 miles
    away from Dugway’s main gate. A few
    days later, investigators recovered his
    Arkansas Razorbacks hat nearby, but
    they never found him.

    “It was unusual on many fronts,” Tooele
    County Sheriff Frank Park said. “Usually,
    you can work back. Once you find the
    victim, you can work backward, and you
    can get some really solid answers. We
    never had a victim. We never had a
    subject, and we had no idea why we
    couldn’t find him.”

    A friend of Bushling’s on base was the
    one who initially reported him missing
    to a superior. At around 7:00 p.m. on the
    day he disappeared, the friend received
    a voicemail from Bushling on his phone.

    The message said, “It’s Bushling, um, I
    need a ride. Alright, talk to you later.”

    Bushling then called the friend, again. This
    time he was able to get through, at which
    point he explained he had run out of gas
    and needed a ride.

    “He sounded frantic. He sounded upset,
    distraught, needed help,” said Herman
    Herrera, a former Lieutenant of Special
    Operations for the county.

    According to Herrera, who was one of the
    lead investigators on the case, Bushling
    told his friend that he had somehow lost
    his shoes, but was walking toward a gate
    on base.

    “I’m cold. It’s raining. I’ve lost one of my
    flip flops. He was wearing flip flops,” Herrera
    said. “I thinkhe was in shorts, and he asked
    for somebody to come get him.”

    Search and rescue crews tracked a path
    they think he was walking for help that
    night. It began at the location of his car
    and ended 3 to 4 miles away at Dugway’s
    Callao Gate. But what happened from there
    is unclear.

    “There are a lot of what ifs; I don’t have
    answers,” Herrera said.

    Theories like foul play or suicide were ruled
    out by county investigators almost immediately.

    Bushling, an army medic, was scheduled to
    head to nursing school in Texas the same
    week he went missing, a move he was looking
    forward to.

    “Going from a medic to become an RN is a
    huge step up for them,” Herrera said. “And
    he was excited about that, and when he
    contacted his family he was in good spirits.”

    Herrera believes Bushling is dead, possibly
    on Dugway’s grounds somewhere.

    “It’s a possibility,” he said. “There’s a lot of
    ordinance out there, unexploded ordinance,
    that doesn’t allow them to be able to search
    these areas.”

    However, Sheriff Park has never been able
    to come to a conclusive answer.

    “In our business, in this scenario, 99 percent
    ofthe time we find the person if they’re dead,”
    Park said. “We couldn’t find him.”

    This summer, an attorney for the Bushling
    family contacted Park and other investigators
    as part of a request to have Bushling declared
    legally dead.

    Park explained he could only tell the attorney
    that Bushling was missing.

    “I hope and pray that he’s found, that he’s
    sitting under a palm tree in the South Pacific
    and enjoying life. That would be wonderful,”
    Park said. “But I don’t know.”

    Because Bushling was never found, the
    Army listed him as a deserter, a title his
    parents fought for years.

    “I thought, ‘How dare you?’” said Bushling’s
    father, Kevin Bushling.

    In August, 3rd District Judge Robert Adkins
    issued a death certificate for Bushling, ruling
    he died on either May 8th or 9th in 2011.

    “I thought, no longer can you call my son a
    deserter,” Bushling said. “No longer can you
    say that he was a dishonorable person. And
    that gave me a lot of peace because I know
    he was not a dishonorable person.”

    The family held a memorial service for their
    son in his hometown of Russellville, Arkansas
    in November.

    Because Bushling’s standing with the military
    had changed from deserter to deceased, a
    six-man Honor Guard was present to pay
    their respects.

    “It seems like it’s been an eternity,” Bushling
    said. “It really does.”

    Because he was declared legally dead, the
    family was able to collect Bushling’s military
    benefits, as well as his life insurance policy.

    While they plan to move forward with their
    lives now, Bushling’s parents believe Dugway
    knows more about what happened to their son.

    “They don’t want the truth to get out there,”
    said Kevin Bushling. “They don’t want to find
    my son.”

    Echoing the thoughts of Herrera, they contend
    their son likely wound up on Dugway’s grounds,

    “They don’t want to find his remains on their
    base because then they have some explaining
    to do,” Bushling said. “This way if they don’t look
    and they don’t find him, they don’t have to explain

    FOX 13 News sent repeated requests to Dugway
    for interviews concerning this story. In a statement,
    spokeswoman Bonnie Robinson said, “We hope
    that the court’s decision to issue a death certificate
    will bring some closure to SPC Joseph Bushling’s

    Closure from the court has not closed the case
    for many, though.

    “It’s just one of those mysteries you just never,
    it’s like an itch that won’t go away, you just keep
    wondering and wondering,” said Kelly Jay, a
    former co-worker of Bushling.

    Despite the mystery, Bushling’s parents hope
    his life won’t be overshadowed by his death.

    “Joseph was my best friend,” Bushling said.
    “I’m very proud. I want him to be remembered
    as the happy-go-lucky person he was.” — with Missing Spc. Joseph Bushling and Joseph BUSHLING-please help us find him, missing since May 8th, 2011.


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