One of the men, 31-year-old Vincent Foster, lived in Port Orchard. The other, 49-year-old Thomas Carter is from Portland. Both were hired to provide security for a demolition team working in Bayji in Northern Iraq.
Carter was an Army veteran and an early member of the Army's elite special operations unit Delta. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
Foster is a Marine Corps vet who served in both the Persian Gulf and Somalia. He's a weapons expert who signed on with Cochise Consultancy of Florida to go to Iraq in January. Foster's mother does not want any pictures of her son released now.
The two men were guarding a demolitions convoy heading back to base camp. The group collects unexploded Iraqi ordinance and disposes of it.
The owner of Foster's private security firm says the group was ambushed Sunday morning. Jesse Johnson says anti-coalition forces detonated a bomb beneath their truck.
"It was not a booby trap that they run over and trip it themselves, all indications are they rigged the explosion," Johnson said.
Johnson says Carter died immediately while two others, including Foster, were severely injured. A fourth man in the truck returned fire and then began giving medical aid. "We did our best to take care of our own as quickly as we could until the Army arrived with the medical evacuation helicopter."
Foster died in the helicopter on the way to a hospital.
Carter's family knew he was in dangerous territory.
"I think the one thing he told me one time is, it's the wild west," says Carter's father-in-law Bruce Hoyt. "It's a dangerous place and I don't know what happened."
The State Department is flying the bodies of both men back to the United States Wednesday night. While they were private security contractors, we understand they will be accorded full military honors.