MOYOCK, N.C. – The deaths of four employees of a local security company and the shocking way the bodies were treated helped bring the conflict in Iraq closer to home, Moyock residents said.
The four civilians were killed and their burned bodies dragged through the streets of an Iraqi town Wednesday. They worked for Blackwater Security Consulting (search), one of five subsidiaries of Blackwater USA, based in northeastern North Carolina.
"With what's been going on in Iraq, I'm not surprised at anything," said 72-year-old Howard Forbes of Moyock. "But I was surprised at what they did to the bodies."
He said the deaths brought the war home to the community.
Marty Huffstickler, 52, who works part-time as an electrician for Blackwater, said he didn't know who was killed.
"I think they're dying for no reason," Huffstickler said. "I don't agree with what's going on over there. The people over there don't want us there."
Jubilant Iraqi residents dragged two of the charred corpses through the streets and hanged them from a bridge, which the United States denounced as "horrific."
The names of the four victims were not immediately released because family members had yet to be notified, U.S. officials said.
The company provides security training and guard services to customers around the world. Blackwater President Gary Jackson (search) and two other company leaders are former Navy SEAL commandos.
The company declined to comment beyond a statement that acknowledged it was a government subcontractor providing security for the delivery of food in the Fallujah area.
Privately owned Blackwater USA's range of paramilitary services include providing firearms and small-groups training facilities for Navy SEALs (search), police department SWAT teams and former special operations personnel.
"We're very proud of the work that we do. We feel that we support a just cause," assistant training director Chris Epperson said during a visit earlier this year.
The company's security consulting business connects former special forces troops with jobs that may involve protecting people or places, or training foreign militaries. Epperson said the company's contractors provide protection to Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq.
A job description posted on Blackwater Security Consulting's Web site last year described positions for independent contractors needed to provide executive protection.
Another job offer said Blackwater USA had a Defense Department contract "to train, equip, and permanently establish a Naval Special Operations Unit in the Azerbaijan Armed Forces." The manager responsible for getting the job done would be paid $130,000 to $150,000 a year.
Other Blackwater USA subsidiaries train dogs and handlers for security work, and train pilots to land airplanes and helicopters on dirt landing strips.