Local Contractor Killed in Iraq

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A local contractor has been shot and killed above Baghdad, aboard a U.S. security company's helicopter.

The chopper belonged to Blackwater USA, and the man shot and killed is Colorado Springs resident Steve Gernet.

“He always looked forward to coming home. He was supposed to be home yesterday,” said Steve’s wife Colleen Head.

But Colleen's husband Steve Gernet never made it home from Iraq.

“One helicopter was shot down or crashed, we don't know. Steve was shot within his helicopter,” said Colleen Head.

The helicopters belonged to Blackwater USA, a security company based in North Carolina.

Steve went to work for them after serving for more than twenty years in the army.

“He was a true patriot, he just so believed in defending the United States flag.”

That's why Colleen supported his decision to go back to Iraq as a contractor protecting U.S. dignitaries.

“To live with him unhappy, sitting behind a desk, or greeting at Wal-Mart wouldn't have been a life, so I would certainly take what we have.”

She knows he was doing what he loved.

“He died a hero, he did, he was defending people who couldn't take care of themselves at the time and that's what he would've wanted.”

So now all Colleen can do is remember her husband.

“He just was such a true person, he was my best friend, and I’ll miss that.”

There are an estimated 100,000 private contractors in Iraq. And according to one website, the death toll amongst them has climbed to 386.

Anyone wanting to make a donation in Steve's honor can go to specialops.org. There’s a link to a fund that helps the families of those killed in special operations.