RITTMAN, Ohio — An Army veteran killed by insurgents while working as a private contractor in Iraq was buried Saturday with military honors at a national cemetery.
The service for Jerko Zovko was held largely in Croatian, reflecting his family heritage. Zovko, who was known as Jerry, fluently spoke English, Croatian, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.
His brother, Tom, read aloud from a condolence note sent by an American who knew Zovko in Iraq, describing him as a renegade who found time to create a rooftop pool in a desert barracks and was willing to be a leader.
"He wanted to help the Iraqis and he wanted to do it on their terms," Tom Zovko told the mourners.
Zovko, 32, was one of four American security workers killed March 31 when they were hit by rocket-propelled grenades in a rebel ambush in Falloujah. Jubilant mobs dragged the burned bodies through the streets and hung two from a bridge, but Zovko's family did not know if he was one of them.
In Clarksville, Tenn., about 200 people attended a memorial service for another worker killed in the ambush, Michael Teague, 38. Teague, a 12-year Army veteran, also received military honors, and members of his motorcycle club escorted the hearse.
"He knew the price of being a warrior," said Teague's wife, Rhonda. "He was devoted to duty, honor and country. He loved his son, loved his family."
Teague and Zovko worked for Blackwater USA, a private security consultant. Loved ones of both said Saturday that they were devoted to making the world a better place.
About 800 people gathered for Zovko's services at St. John Roman Catholic Cathedral in Cleveland, then drove 35 miles to the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. The graveside service was complete with a seven-gun salute, two Army buglers and a police bagpiper.
Zovko spent a year at Ohio State University. His family said a subsequent visit to his grandparents in Croatia inspired him to enlist in the Army at age 19. He was discharged as a sergeant after eight years of Army service in 2001.
The Rev. Edward Estok called Zovko a freedom fighter.
"We are called to live in freedom," Estok said. "We salute his sacrifice."
At Cumberland Drive Baptist Church in Clarksville, Teague was remembered as a devoted father and husband. Friends said he had a self-deprecating sense of humor and used to make jokes about his baldness.
Teague served in Afghanistan, Panama and Grenada and earned a Bronze Star, his wife said.