Michael Teague: killed in Fallujah
Ian Demsky
Michael Teague: killed in Fallujah
Tue Apr 6, 2004 14:50

Michael Teague -

One of those killed in Fallujah was Michael Teague. There is also a Michael Teague who was head of security for the White Supremacist group Aryan Nations.

Clarksvillian, a decorated veteran, was target of mob's brutality

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Rhonda Teague is clinging to fresh memories of her husband.

A month ago, she and Michael Teague celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary. Two weeks ago, he left for work in Iraq as a security adviser.

Yesterday morning, about 1 a.m., a man knocked on the Teagues' door in Clarksville and told Rhonda Teague that Michael was dead.

''We will miss him beyond measure,'' Rhonda Teague, 30, said through a family friend last night. ''Mike was a proud father, soldier and friend.''

Michael Teague, 38, a former soldier with the Army's elite ''Night Stalkers'' at Fort Campbell, was one of four Americans working for a private security contractor who were slain Wednesday in Fallujah, Iraq.

Photos and video images that shocked the world showed the men's bodies being mutilated and dragged through the streets by a mob, and two corpses later hanging from a bridge.

Leroy Fry, who lives down the street from the Teague family, said this ''kind of thing is what brings the war home.''

''We didn't talk all of the time, but when we did it was about Christ,'' Fry said of Teague. ''When we talked, it seemed like he was getting closer to Christ every day. I was proud of him for that.''

Fry's wife, Eunice, said she spoke with Rhonda Teague yesterday and offered her comfort.

''She was holding up well, considering,'' she said. ''She believes Mike died a hero, and she has no regrets about what he did.''

Sgt. John Ratliff, of the U.S. Army recruiting station in Nashville, had been friends with Michael Teague since 1990, when the two played softball together. He received the bad news early yesterday morning.

''Anybody who gets that phone call knows it's not them,'' he said in a telephone interview from his Clarksville home last night. ''You can't believe it.''

Ratliff last saw Michael Teague in January, following his December return from being stationed in Iraq.

''Mike felt as if he could do more and wanted to go back,'' Ratliff said.

Like many people who have suddenly lost loved ones, Ratliff spoke of his friend in both the present and past tense.

''Mike is a very professional solider,'' he said. ''Mike is the type of person you would want on your side in any type of anything, that you'd want someone with you. He loved his country. He would tell you we have our freedom because somebody has made the ultimate sacrifice.''

Teague had been working for Blackwater Security Consulting, a North Carolina-based civilian company working in Iraq. Blackwater workers had been subcontracted by the U.S. government to offer security for food deliveries in the Fallujah area, the company said in a statement last night.

A Blackwater representative arrived at the Teague home early yesterday and informed the family of the death, the Teague family said. A family spokesman said the relatives declined to answer questions about what the Teagues were told about how their loved one had died or details about what had happened.

Eunice Fry said Rhonda Teague did see a photo of the then-unidentified Americans hanging from a bridge in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, but she would not acknowledge her husband was pictured.

''That's not how she remembers him, and that's not how she wants anybody else to remember him,'' she said. ''That's not how I remember him either.''

Leroy Fry said he has not seen the pictures but doesn't want to see them, knowing that one of the victims was a friend of his.

''This is why you have to keep a broad perspective on'' the war, he said.

''If you don't, you could lose sight of what it is about. If you think about everywhere our boys have been, the people's lives have been better off.''

Rhonda Teague said her husband was a 12-year veteran of the Army and had done tours of duty in Afghanistan, Panama and Granada. He had been awarded the Bronze Star.

He had served with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, an elite helicopter unit known by the nickname ''Night Stalkers'' for its ability to carry out difficult missions at night, often flying using night-vision goggles.

In addition to his wife, Teague leaves behind a son, Brandon, 16, and many family and friends.

Slain with Teague was Jerko ''Jerry'' Zokvo, 32, a former Special Forces soldier from Willoughby, Ohio, the Associated Press reported last night. The other two Blackwater employees have not been publicly identified, as the company has declined to release any of their identities.

Staff witer Ian Demsky contributed to this report. Michelle E. Shaw can be reached at 259-8277 or mshaw@Tennessean.com.

Aryan Nation withdraws appeal
... Steele, who represented Butler and co-defendant Michael Teague in the ... A Kootenai
County jury found Butler, Teague and the Aryan Nations grossly negligent ...
Aryan Nations guard: I don't recall shooting
Says he was drunk when woman, son were shot at

Thursday, August 31, 2000


COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- A former security guard for the Aryan Nations testified yesterday that he was too drunk to remember if he shot at a woman and her son outside the hate group's compound in 1998.

But John Yeager also read portions of a letter he wrote to Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler, saying "next to Christ you are the greatest man to ever walk the face of this Earth.

"I will do what you ask," Yeager wrote in the letter, composed after the shooting incident.

In a trial that began Monday, plaintiffs Victoria Keenan and her son Jason seek unspecified damages for a July 1998 confrontation in which they were assaulted and shot at by Aryan Nations security guards.

Butler contends that the security guards were out-of-control renegades who violated Aryan Nations rules in racing off the compound to chase the Keenans.

But civil rights attorney Morris Dees, who is using the lawsuit in a bid to bankrupt the Aryan Nations, contends that the guards were acting consistently with the direction established by Butler.

Yeager was called to the stand by Dees, who asked him if he remembered shooting at the Keenans.

"I was real intoxicated that night," Yeager said. "I don't think I did, but I don't know."

"Isn't this story trying to help Mr. Butler in this case?" Dees asked.

Yeager denied that.

The trial is being held under tight security in this northern Idaho resort city. Law enforcement officers ringed the courthouse yesterday and were perched on the roof.

Aryan Nations supporters were standing outside the courthouse waving banners. Irv Rubin of the Jewish Defense League has tried to rally human rights activists to stage counter-demonstrations, but few were turning out.

"The Jewish community is frightened stiff of these guys," Rubin complained. "I don't know why they continue to live in this area."

Much of yesterday's testimony was by former Aryan Nations security chief Michael Teague, also a defendant in the case. Butler, Yeager and former security guard Edward Jesse Warfield are the other defendants.

Defendant Shane Wright has been a fugitive ever since the attack.

Teague painted a picture of Aryan Nations security guards as ex-convicts, some with drug problems, who often acted impulsively. Teague said Warfield was an ex-convict and Yeager had problems holding his temper.

But under examination from Dees, Teague read from internal documents that suggested otherwise.

"Aryan Nations is a disciplined, coordinated monolithic hierarchy with all authority emanating from leader-Pastor Richard Butler," Teague read from a handbook approved by Butler.

He described a paramilitary organization in which Butler, 82, was addressed as "der Fuhrer," subordinates held German military ranks and members greeted each other with the Nazi straight-arm salute.

Members were required to be of the "white Aryan race," according to a membership application form.

They paid $35 to join and monthly dues of $5, Teague said.

Dees is a founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., who has used such trials to bankrupt hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

If the jury finds for the Keenans and awards punitive damages, the plaintiffs could go after the Aryan Nations' assets, which consist mainly of the compound near Hayden Lake, a few miles north of Coeur d'Alene.

Defense attorney Edgar Steele represents Butler, Teague and the corporation that controls Aryan Nations' assets.

Warfield and Yeager, who are serving prison sentences for assaulting the Keenans, are acting as their own attorneys.

Dees has said the Aryans were on alert after a series of arsons and vandalisms the night the Keenans drove past their headquarters. The mother and son were chased after their car backfired and the guards mistook the sound for a gunshot.

Teague testified that he'd had a conflict with Warfield because he thought Warfield used drugs and lacked the intelligence to be a security guard. But he also admitted that he'd appointed Warfield to a security job.

Steele asked why so many members of Aryan Nations had prison records.

"We are in the business of forgiving people," Teague said. "We try to help reform them."

After court ended, Teague walked out of the courtroom and was surrounded by an honor guard of flag-carrying Aryans supporters. They sang a song as they escorted him to his vehicle.

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