Iraq: Families Grieve After Halliburton Contract Workers Identified

Publisher Name: 
Associated Press

 Stephen Hulett quit his trucking job to work for Halliburton Co. in Iraq, believing the risk of injury had declined since Saddam Hussein was captured in December. Jeffery Parker, another contract worker, was due home in late May, in time for his June wedding. 

The bodies of the two men and a third American contractor, Jack Montague, were found last week near the site of an April 9 attack on a fuel convoy west of Baghdad, Houston-based Halliburton announced Tuesday. A fourth, unidentified, victim was also found. 

With three children ages 18 to 21, Hollie Hulett said, her husband took the job because it offered good wages, helping him provide for his family. 

"I said to him, 'Steve, you promised that you'd come home if it got real serious,"' she told the News Advocate of Manistee, Mich. "And he said, 'Honey, I will be home."' 

Hulett, 48, of Manistee; Parker, 45, of Lake Charles, La.; and Montague, 52, of Pittsburg, Ill., "were brave hearts without medals, humanitarians without parades and heroes without statues," the company said in a statement confirming the identities of the workers. 

Thomas Hamill of Macon, Miss., the Halliburton worker seen on video after the convoy attack, was among those who remained unaccounted for. 

The fourth body has not been identified, said Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall. In Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said one of the four bodies was not American but he provided no additional details. 

Parker, one of nine children, was planning to marry in early June, shortly after his scheduled return home, said his sister, Sheryl Reeves of Moss Bluff, La. He had a son from a previous marriage. 

"He will always be our brother ... and we all looked up to him," she said. "And we helped each other. ... We will never forget him." 

Hulett, Montague, Parker and Hamill were among seven employees of Halliburton subsidiary KBR, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root, missing since the convoy attack. 

Two military men, Pfc. Keith M. Maupin and Sgt. Elmer C. Krause, also were unaccounted-for. Maupin also was seen on video footage. 

Hulett was hauling dry goods in the Midwest until he quit to work for Halliburton, said Bonnie Bigalke, president of Manistee, Mich.-based Kowalski Distributing Co., where he worked. 

She said Hulett seemed to realize the danger, but did not think it was a huge risk because the situation "was kind of settled" after Saddam was caught. 

A woman who answered the phone at a listing for a Jack Montague in Pittsburg, Ill., declined to comment. No one answered the door at a ranch home listed as his and a neighbor said the family wanted privacy. 

Counting the deaths announced Tuesday, Halliburton said 33 of its contractors have died while working in Iraq and Kuwait, performing jobs for the government that range from extinguishing oil fires to delivering fuel and food. Thousands have signed on as contract workers and stand to earn up to $120,000 tax-free for a year's work, including overtime.

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering