Scott Helvenston
Stephen "Scott" Helvenston (June 21, 1965 – March 31, 2004) was a former United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Navy SEAL, and worked as a security contractor for Blackwater Security when he was killed in the 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush
31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush
On March 31, 2004 an ambush saw Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah attack a convoy containing four United States contractors from the private security company Blackwater USA, who were conducting delivery for food caterers ESS....

 within days of arriving in Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....


Helvenston was formerly a personal trainer for Hollywood celebrities such as Demi Moore
Demi Moore
Demi Guynes Kutcher , known professionally as Demi Moore, is an American actress. After minor roles in film and a role in the soap opera General Hospital, Moore established her career in films such as St...

 (for G.I. Jane
G.I. Jane
G.I. Jane is a 1997 American action film directed by Ridley Scott, produced by Largo Entertainment, Scott Free Productions and Caravan Pictures, distributed by Hollywood Pictures and starring Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen. The film tells the fictional story of the first woman to undergo training...

), and was also featured in the reality shows Combat Missions and Man vs. Beast
Man vs. Beast
Man vs. Beast is a series of sensationalistic television specials aired in the United States by the Fox television network. The shows were produced by Brian Richardson and directed by Bob Levy. They involve a variety of challenges in which people and animals compete against each other. Although the...

(in the latter, he completed an obstacle course faster than a chimpanzee). Scott also starred in a reality series called Extreme Expeditions: Model Behavior months before he left for Iraq. The series was shot in Mexico and is finished; but has not aired yet. His great-great-uncle was Secretary of War Elihu Root
Elihu Root
Elihu Root was an American lawyer and statesman and the 1912 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the prototype of the 20th century "wise man", who shuttled between high-level government positions in Washington, D.C...


He joined the Navy at 17 and became the youngest person to complete Navy SEAL training. He spent 12 years in the Navy SEALs until he left in 1994 as E-6 (Quartermaster First Class).

Helvenston began training at Blackwater USA
Blackwater USA
Xe Services LLC, better known by its former names, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide, is a private military company founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark.. Xe is currently the largest of the U.S. State Department's three private security contractors...

's facilities in March 2004, and developed a personal conflict with head trainer Justin "Shrek" McQuown. Helvenston arrived in Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 on March 18, where he was under the management of John and Kathy Potter, whom he knew from Combat Missions.

Helvenston's contract

Employee John Potter had helped Blackwater win the contract to provide security for kitchen equipment convoys for the Kuwait company Regency Hotel and Hospital Company and Eurest Support Services
Eurest Support Services
Eurest Support Services is a subsidiary of the catering company, Compass Group PLC specializing in harsh-environment large-scale food service and facilities management...

 (ESS was a subcontractor of Halliburton KBR). The contract billed Regency $815 a day; Helvenston and the other contractors were paid $600 a day.

The original contract called for at least three men per vehicle on security missions "with a minimum of two armored vehicles to support ESS movements." In addition the contract called for a heavily armed rear gunner, and time before any mission to review the route and conduct a risk assessment and pre-trip inspection.

Blackwater signed a revised contract with Regency on March 12, 2004 that removed the word "armored". Potter insisted that his men be given armored vehicles, however, and was removed as project manager on March 24, replaced by Justin McQuown.


On March 27, two days before Helvenston's scheduled deployment to Iraq, McQuown reassigned him to a team leaving on the 28th, over the objections of numerous other Blackwater employees. Helvenston believed McQuown resented him and deliberately reassigned Helvenston at the last minute. In one of Helvenston's final emails before his death, he wrote to the owner of Blackwater, claiming McQuown's behavior was "very manipulative, duplicitive [sic], immature and unprofessional," with the hidden agenda "Lets [sic] see if we can screw with Scott."

On March 30, McQuown sent Helvenston out with three other contractors, Jerry Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague, to guard a convoy for ESS traveling from Baghdad to a military base west of Fallujah
Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries....

. They were in two unarmored vehicles and had no map.

Helvenston's death

Helvenston, along with squad members Jerko "Jerry" Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague were ambushed by insurgents en route to the center of the city of Fallujah, transporting food, and other equipment in unarmoured vehicles. The four contractors were killed with grenades and small arms fire, their bodies dragged from their vehicles, beaten and set ablaze. Their burned and mutilated corpses were then dragged through the streets, and two of them hung from a bridge crossing the Euphrates.

Photos of the event were released to news agencies
News agency
A news agency is an organization of journalists established to supply news reports to news organizations: newspapers, magazines, and radio and television broadcasters. Such an agency may also be referred to as a wire service, newswire or news service.-History:The oldest news agency is Agence...



The families of the four slain contractors, led by Helvenston's mother Katy Helvenston-Wettengel and Donna Zovko, Jerry Zovko's mother, filed suit against Blackwater with lawyer Daniel Callahan on January 5, 2005 (Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security
Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security
Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security is the lawsuit for wrongful death filed by the families of the four contractors for Blackwater Security who were slain in the 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush...

) alleging wrongful death.

The suit alleges that Blackwater repeatedly made decisions that made the deaths of the contractors more likely in order to save money. These alleged decisions include not buying armored vehicles to save $1.5 million and removing the employee, John Potter, who complained about that action; and violating the contract by not sending out a six-man team with rear gunners and conducting a pre-trip risk assessment.

The suit further alleges that McQuown intervened and ordered only a four-man team be sent, although six were available, the other two remaining to perform clerical duties.

Blackwater responded by counter-suing for $10 million, however in January 2011, both cases were thrown out of court by a federal judge. Counsel for the plaintiffs announced they would appeal the ruling.

External links

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