Remembering 'Bear': A Tribute to a Protector

Everyone called him "Bear." In fact, many of his colleagues here at FOX News learned Guy Barattieri's full name for the first time when they read his obituary.

To us, Bear was a protector. He worked with FOX as a guard in our Baghdad bureau, leading our large security team when that office was attacked with a cement mixer full of explosives last year.

To insurgents, he was a target. While traveling with contractors to a power plant near Baghdad, they killed him and two others with a roadside bomb.

Bear survived the blast, but he died shortly afterward on an operating table.

He was a young man with impressive achievements. At 36, he was a West Point graduate, decorated Green Beret and Seattle police officer. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he rejoined the military and led troops to the heart of Baghdad. When he died, Bear was a major in a National Guard Special Forces group, working for private security firms while not on active duty. He was big, confident and quick with a smile.

A rotation in our Baghdad office is always unsettling, but it helps that everyone at FOX lives under the constant protection of men like Bear. They meet us at the airport, fit us with body armor and explain the procedures for traveling what is said to be the world's deadliest road. They sleep and eat with us in the bureau; they never leave our side. Bear's impressive combination of brawn and brains stood between us and the people who wanted us dead.

Covering the war in Iraq is dangerous for every reporter, producer and technician, but even more so for our security people. We continually evaluate our safety procedures and the changing threats. At one point I asked Bear for his recommendation on an important change that would affect us all, adding "they always go after the big guys with guns first." Bear smiled and agreed. He knew the risks and gave his life protecting others, just as he'd protected so many of us here at FOX.

Guy Barattieri left behind his wife, Laurel, and two daughters, the younger of whom is 3 months old.

The Washington National Guard has established a fund for his family, which can be reached at (800) 244-0874, or via mail at:

Bear Family Fund, Account #13878

American Lake Credit Union

5146 Camp Murray, Building 16

Tacoma, WA 98430

If you'd like to add your thoughts, please send them to ken.lacorte@foxnews.com.

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I'd known Bear for a couple of weeks before I got 'round to asking him what his real name was. Guy, he told me. He didn't seem like a Guy. Bear was so much more appropriate for the man we trusted to protect us while we did our jobs in Iraq. Many people you meet in Baghdad are transient friends — colleagues who you don't get the chance to know outside of here. But I, like many others, was welcomed into Bear's Seattle home. He promised me a wild night on the town with his army and police buddies, and he lived up to that promise.

Bear and I arrived back in Baghdad a few days apart earlier this month. I'd been giving him a hard time over e-mail about neglecting to send me his mailing address. I'd bought some baby gifts for his daughter after she was born in July and still hadn't sent them out.

Bear called me the day before he was killed. We talked about marriage and being a dad — and he jokingly complained that babies just eat sleep and poop — for some reason, he thought they'd be more interactive. Underneath the laughter was a man fiercely in love with his new family; a devoted husband, father, son and brother; a man who served his city and his country with honor. A man I'm proud to have called my friend.

— David Mac Dougall

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In a bad place Bear was calm. You could tell this calm came from experience, from a man who knew what he was doing. He did not have to try to impress anyone, and said a lot with a few words, a nod and a smile. The effect he had on me was to make me feel better in a bad place.

— Steve Harrigan

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The last time I recall seeing Bear was in a dank, makeshift kitchen inside Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. I was trying to make a pizza using a broken oven and Bear came in to borrow some pepperoni. At first, I didn't see him standing behind my producer so he overheard our conversation. We were saying, Bear was the reason our operation didn't fall apart following a triple car bombing a few weeks earlier. Bear was a natural leader. He had a way of making people hold themselves to a higher standard. He made people believe in themselves more than they normally would. He was truly a force multiplier.

Bear stood just outside the kitchen listening to our conversation until he couldn't take anymore. We must have embarrassed him, which was not an easy thing to do. With a grin on his face, he picked up his pepperoni and told us to be quiet. Looking back now, I'm glad he overheard us. So often, when people die, everyone says nice things about them at their funeral, but we were lucky enough to say these things in front of Bear while he was still alive. We all loved Bear. He was literally one in a million.

— Andrew Stack

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In the minutes after last October's car bombs, Bear was the person who held all of us together both as individuals and as a news bureau. He made contact with the two staff members who were trapped outdoors only a few feet away from the blasts, took roll, turned to me and asked whom I needed to keep us functioning as a news operation and where I needed those people. He organized work crews to begin the laborious process of cleaning up the rooms on one side of the hotel (including his own) that had been destroyed by the explosions. That night and the following day he brought a series of American officers, culminating in a general, into my office to discuss the security arrangements around the hotel compound.

Throughout it all he remained calm. When it was over he was confident and smiling, and that attitude helped the rest of us to understand that we, too, were going to make it through.

— Gordon Robison

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Bear arrived on his first assignment to head up our security team in Baghdad. We all knew right away that Bear was the man. You just knew no one would mess with us because Bear would make sure of it. He would be out there, checking the perimeter, always watching, never leaving anything to chance and running a tight ship. And it was done in a quiet, no braggin' way. He was proud of the army he served in and he played a role in educating us, keeping us better informed without revealing things we were never supposed to know.

The quick smile was one of the things that struck me most about Bear and his biggest smiles were reserved for the many frequent mentions of his family back home. He never hesitated to show pictures of his wife, his daughter and eventually his newborn baby girl.

For those of us at the FOX Baghdad office who lived and worked with him, we will always owe Bear our greatest gratitude, our deepest respect and a place in our memories. I will always miss him.

— John Fiegener

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Bear was the best. In a weird way, he was like the super-cool summer camp counselor that everyone loved and respected and wanted to be a good person around. He was smart and honest and direct. He made us feel safe. He was the kind of guy who could wear absurd gold hot pants (or gym shorts as he called them) and yet still be the biggest badass. He was loyal and loved his family, and when we were in Baghdad, we were a part of that family. I am so grateful to have shared those times with him.

— Clarissa Ward