Hawaii native is identified as fourth victim in Fallujah

HONOLULU -- The last victim identified in the attack on four civilians in Iraq this week was a native of Hawaii who joined the military out of high school and returned to his home state several years ago after a career as an Army Ranger.

His family was informed late Thursday that Wesley J. Batalona was one of the four American contractors killed in Fallujah, Iraq, his older sister, Uilani Shibata, said Friday.

Batalona, 48; Jerko "Jerry" Zovko, 32; Michael Teague, 38, and Scott Helvenston, 38, were killed in an ambush on Wednesday, their charred bodies mutilated and dragged through the streets. The contractors were working for Blackwater Security Consulting when their vehicle was hit by rocket-propelled grenades.

Shibata said Batalona's wife, June, was told of her husband's death while she was at work late Thursday.

Batalona was one of 10 children, and Shibata said she and her husband raised him until he joined the Army in 1974 after graduating from Honokaa High School, where he was student body president.

"We gave him two choices: Either go to school and become a policeman or join the service," she said. "My husband was in the airborne, and he pretty much looked up to my husband."

Batalona was stationed for much of his career in Georgia, where his daughter now goes to college, Shibata said.

"He loved his family very much, his wife and his daughter," she said.

After serving 12 years in the Navy, Helvenston started a career as a fitness instructor and worked as trainer and stunt man for such movies as "Face/Off" and "G.I. Jane."

He helped prepare actress Demi Moore for her role as the first woman to join the Navy SEALs in "G.I. Jane," and appeared on two reality series: "Man vs. Beast" and "Combat Missions."

But after years out of the service, friends said they weren't surprised to learn the former SEAL had left the comfort of his life in California behind him and headed for Iraq.

"That's what, in a time of need, true American warriors like Scott would do," "Combat Missions" producer Mark Burnett said Thursday.

Zovko always wanted to save the world, his mother said. He joined the Army at 19 and spoke five languages fluently -- English, Croatian, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.

"Jerry was a man with a principle, an idea," his mother, Danica "Donna" Zovko said in Willoughby, Ohio. "He loved people. He wanted the world to be without borders, for everybody to be free and safe."

She and her husband, Jozo, suspected their son was one of the dead late Wednesday evening because he had been working in Iraq. Their fears were confirmed early Thursday.

"He was the most self-motivated person," Zovko's brother Tom told ABC's "Good Morning America. "He grew up a skinny, little guy but wanted to be big, and he become big. He had desire and motivation and never gave up."

Teague was a 12-year Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Panama and Grenada, said his wife, Rhonda Teague. She said he received a bronze star for his service in Afghanistan.

Rhonda Teague called her husband a "proud father, soldier and American."

Blackwater Security, based in Moyock, N.C., provides security training and guard services to customers around the world. President Gary Jackson and two other company leaders are former Navy SEAL commandos.

A statement on the company's Web site said officials were grieving for the employees.

"Our tasks are dangerous, and while we feel sadness for our fallen colleagues, we also feel pride and satisfaction that we are making a difference for the people of Iraq," the statement said.


On the Net:

Blackwater USA: http://blackwatersecurity.com