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Biographical sketches of 5 indicted Blackwater Worldwide security guards

Associated Press (2008-12-08)

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Biographical sketches of 5 Blackwater guards

Biographical sketches of 5 indicted Blackwater Worldwide security guards

The Associated Press AP News

Dec 08, 2008 19:29 EST

Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards in their mid- to late 20s, all with distinguished military records, are each charged with 14 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter in the September 2007 deaths of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad's Nisoor Square.

Prosecutors says the men opened machine-gun fire on innocent, surrendering Iraqis and launched a grenade into a girls' school during the gruesome shooting.

Below, a biographical sketch of each man based on court documents filed Monday in support of their pretrial release and biographies on a Web site set up by their lawyers.


Donald Ball is a 26-year-old from West Valley City, Utah. His residency is a reason defense lawyers say the case should be tried in Salt Lake City, not Washington. Presumably, the men would find a more conservative jury pool and one more likely to support the Iraq war.

Ball attended school in Utah. He was a track and cross-country standout and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. His father died when he was 16. After graduating from high school, Ball enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was an honor graduate in the School of Infantry following boot camp at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Ball served three tours in Iraq --- March-May 2003, February-July 2004 and February-July 2005 --- and was squad team leader during each stint. He reached the rank of corporal.

In support of an award nomination, a commanding officer described Ball as focused on his mission and calm under pressure. "His attitude and devotion to duty were excellent examples for his Marines to follow," the officer wrote.

The list of awards he received is long: a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his leadership while coming under sniper fire, a Certificate of Commendation for his combat service in the city of Fallujah, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with two stars, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation and a Rifle Expert Badge (second award).

Ball was honorably discharged from the Marines before Blackwater hired him in August 2006. He returned to Iraq in December of that year. He left Blackwater in November 2007, two months after the Nisoor Square shooting, and joined another company where he trained Marines who were preparing to deploy to Iraq.

In March, Ball entered the police academy at Salt Lake Community College
he's scheduled to graduate on Dec. 18. He also works as a bailiff at Salt Lake City justice court.


A Texas native, Dustin Heard, 28, lives in Maryville, Tenn., with his wife and young daughter.

He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2000. After basic training at Camp Pendleton, Heard enrolled in the security force battalion school in North Carolina.

Heard was stationed in Bahrain as part of a security force supporting U.S. missions in the Middle East. Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he was assigned to Kuwait. During the invasion, Heard was part of an anti-terrorist team deployed to protect oil fields off the coast of Iraq.

He was later moved to southern Iraq, near Karbala, as part of a team of Marines assigned to recover downed pilots and aircraft. Later in 2003, he was deployed to Afghanistan.

He was honorably discharged in 2004 and joined Blackwater in December of that year.

His honors include: Certificate of Commendation, Navy and Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and three certificates of appreciation from U.S. Embassy, Baghdad, for securing the embassy and Ministry of Parliament and providing security for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


Evan Liberty, 26, lives in Rochester, N.H.

After graduating high school, Liberty enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served for four years. From 2002-04, Liberty was posted to security details at U.S. embassies in Cairo, Egypt, and Guatemala City.

He eventually was promoted to sergeant of the guard, supervising a detachment of 24 Marines.

Liberty received an honorable discharge, and he joined Blackwater in December 2004.

His honors include: Meritorious Mast, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, White House Communications Agency Certificate, National Defense Service Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon.


Nick Slatten, 25, has lived in Sparta, Tenn., except for his time in the military and with Blackwater.

Slatten enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school in 2002. In September 2003, he was deployed to Iraq for an eight-month tour, where he spent time in Fallujah on missions to capture top Iraqi government officials.

He completed the Army's sniper training program and was redeployed to Iraq for a second tour in September 2005 along Iraq's northern border with Iran.

After four years, Slatten was honorably discharged as a sergeant. He was hired by Blackwater in October 2006.

Slatten received the Army Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Army Commendation Award, Army Achievement Medal National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.


Paul Slough, 29, grew up in Texas and, aside from his time in the military and with Blackwater, has lived there all his life.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating high school in 1999.

As a member of the 3rd Infantry Division, he was deployed to Bosnia for six months in 2000, where he conducted security patrols.

After an honorable discharge in 2002, Slough joined the Texas National Guard and deployed to Iraq in January 2005 for one year. He left the National Guard in 2006, and joined Blackwater in the spring of that year.

His honors include: Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge, Armed Forced Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NATO Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He lives with his wife in Keller, Texas, and works as a welder. Since May Slough has attended community college part time.


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Title Biographical sketches of 5 indicted Blackwater Worldwide security guards
Publisher Associated Press
Pub Date 2008-12-08
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Keywords Blackwater, Private Mercenaries
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Topic revision: r1 - 2009-03-10, RaymondLutz
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