HOUSTON – Three of four bodies found near an attack on a fuel convoy in Iraq earlier this month were contract workers for Halliburton Co. (search), the company said Tuesday.
Stephen Hulett, 48, of Manistee, Mich.; Jack Montague, 52, of Pittsburg, Ill.; and Jeffery Parker, 45, of Lake Charles, La., "were brave hearts without medals, humanitarians without parades and heroes without statues," Houston-based Halliburton 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, remained unaccounted for.
The fourth body has not been identified, Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said. In Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (search) said one of the four bodies had been identified as a non-American. He would not give the nationality or further details.
Hulett, Montague, Parker and Hamill were among seven employees of Halliburton subsidiary KBR (search), formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root, missing since an April 9 attack on their convoy west of Baghdad. The bodies of Hulett, Montague, Parker and the unidentified victim were found near the site of the attack.
Two military men, Pfc. Keith M. Maupin and Sgt. Elmer C. Krause, also were unaccounted for, and Maupin, like Hamill, has been seen on video footage.
"We grieve today for the tragic and sudden loss of our co-workers," the Halliburton statement said.
Hulett was a truck driver hauling dry goods in the Midwest until he quit after Christmas to go to work for Halliburton, said Bonnie Bigalke, president of Manistee, Mich.-based Kowalski Distributing Co.
"Stephen just wanted to go over there to shake the hands of all our military people who are over there fighting for us," Hulett's wife, Hollie, told the News Advocate, of Manistee. "He also went over there because he knew he could make a good wage, so that he could provide for his family." He had three children, ranging in age from 18 to 21.
His family agonized until his death was confirmed, said brother-in-law Kirt Nathan. "It's been pretty rough," Nathan told television station WWTV-WWUP. "He died doing what he wanted to do. He loved driving a truck. ... Plus he was helping other people."
Hulett is survived by his wife, Hollie, and three adult children.
Parker was due home at the end of May and was planning to get married in early June, his sister, Sheryl Reeves of Moss Bluff, La., told KPLC-TV in Lake Charles. He had one son from a previous marriage.
Parker was the sixth of nine children; he had two brothers and six sisters.
"He will always be our brother and we all looked up to him. And we helped each other. We helped him, he helped us. We will never forget him," Reeves said.
A woman answering a telephone listing for a Jack Montague in Pittsburg, Ill., declined to identify herself or comment. No one answered the door at a ranch home listed as belonging to Montague. A neighbor said the family wanted privacy.
Soon after hearing about Montague's death, store owner Pam Harris began ordering yellow ribbons to give away. "I just don't want his family to think he died in vain," she said.
The news upset resident Gary Cassady. "Every time I watch the news I hear more of them dead -- it's wrong," he said. "It touches so many people for everybody over there dead. It ruins families."
Counting the deaths announced Tuesday, the company says 33 Halliburton 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 of people have signed on as contract workers because of the good pay. Workers can earn up to $120,000 tax-free for a year's work, including overtime.
Hamill's wife, Kellie, said Tuesday she would write the families of the three workers identified Tuesday "and let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers as well."
She said she prayed that efforts to secure the release of her husband, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson's attempts to contact religious leaders in Iraq, would soon prove successful.
On Saturday, insurgents freed two Japanese hostages unhurt. That and Tuesday's announcement leaves 12 foreigners missing or confirmed abducted in a string of kidnappings alongside some of the worst violence in the country since the U.S.-led invasion began. An Italian security guard was killed last week.