Operation Ranger Up

We Remember Iraq: The Four Contractors

By
Updated: March 21, 2013
tribute

Editor’s Note: Out of all the recollections we will be posting over the next several days this one is the hardest for me.  You see, Jerry Zovko (he went by Jerry not Jerko) was a friend of mine.  Jerry and I met at PLDC on Ft. Bragg and bunked next to each other.  We immediately hit it off and ended up spending most of our free time together.  Just as most military friendships go, we lost touch until we crossed paths again in Bosnia several years later and once again fell right back into the same routine.  Jerry was an amazing soldier, friend and all-around good guy.  When I first learned of this event happening no names had been released.  But, when I finally learned of Jerry’s passing I was even more angered by the events that lead to his death.  I still think of Jerry often and know that he is currently assigned to PSD for St. Michael. Never forget. -RU Rob

By Grin and Barrett

It’s an interesting country we live in. I absolutely love the United States and her citizens; we are an amazing people who live in a place where opportunity, freedom, and liberty are the norm, not the exception. We stand together through the harshest of times, the direst of situations, and the most agonizing of manmade—and natural—disasters. We also revel in our triumph, celebrate our best, and unfailingly cheer for the underdog. But we also forget.

We’re a forgetful people, these Americans that I love. We quickly turn to the next best thing, the newest and fastest, the “good news fairies” who help us forget by touting the newest breakthrough, the new and improved model of this or that. We drink and cheer and party in spite of the fact—or maybe because—it helps us forget. For months after 9/11, American flags adorned our streets, hung from windows, flew proudly on long unused flag poles. Cars flew them from their hoods, schools hung them in the classrooms, and church billboards read “God Bless America,” in every town, in every city. But, like so many other times in our history, the flags soon became worn, taken down, and not replaced. Not because our citizens don’t love the flag, but because we forget. We forget that our country was born through hardship, strife, blood and selfless sacrifice. Today, our freedom is maintained and extended by these very same traits, even though many of us forget.

On March 31 of 2004, an ambush in Fallujah claimed the lives of four American security contractors. Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona, and Mike Teague, lost their lives that day. Their bodies were dragged, torn, burned, and hung from a bridge over the Euphrates. These were Americans—our Americans. I did not know any of these men personally, but I did know who Scott Helvenston was. I had seen him on the USA network’s “Combat Missions.”

I can still remember laughing at his antics; he was clearly the joker of the group. Was…now gone.

4 contractorsWhen I heard about the events in Fallujah that day in March, I was outraged, just as many Americans were. The thought of one of our citizens, let alone four, being treated in such a dehumanizing and brutal manner infuriated me. The desecration of their bodies, the symbolic domination of their spirit.

Now, nine years later, I haven’t forgotten, and I know that many of you haven’t either. But that’s part of the job; one of the harder aspects that most folks just don’t get. To forget the tragedy or event is easier; to remember is harder. Remembering the person is the piece that we cling to, the piece that we want to relive. It’s the event we want to forget. But we, the Shepherds, must remember, in honor of those who have paid that price of hardship, strife, blood, and selfless sacrifice. It’s the most interesting of puzzles for the Shepherds. We remember so others can forget, yet we scorn them when they do. For that is part of the mandate, the unspoken pledge we all adhere to. Helvenston, Zovko, Batalona, and Teague.

 

We will remember you brothers—we will not forget.

 

Comments

comments

6 Comments

  1. Jeremy

    March 21, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I was in Fallujah when this went down part of the 82nd transitioning with the USMC. Sad day and one I will always remember.

  2. Jeff

    March 21, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    So many thoughts and I’m not sure I could put them all into words about this tragic event. From the total lack of outrage from the media to the forgetfullness of the American people. This incident shaped my thoughts of this country (yes I am an Iraq veteran) just the same as Mogadishu did in 1993. It disgusts me that the American public can remember Abu Ghraib but they can’t remember these murders
    They’re all savages.

  3. Linda Glaz

    March 23, 2013 at 9:39 am

    That any event is forgotten or not brought to life by the media
    is shameful. But then, I’ve long since given up hope that CNN will
    actually be truthful and caring when it comes to any of our heroes. Great article, Barrett!

    • Sandycg71

      March 29, 2013 at 8:01 am

      Let’s keep politics out of this; it’s insulting.

  4. Hector "Doc" Gamez

    March 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I remember Rgr Batalona from 1/75. Hard charging NCO. I will never forget those images. That’s no way for a soldier to die. Savages is right.

  5. Maria Saric

    March 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    ,,,,, Jerko Jerry Zovko, I will always remember you as mali Jerkica, LOVE YOU as BIG JERRY, your TETA M , pocivao u miru,

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