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Sunday, April 11, 2004



Services set for Big Isle
man killed in Iraq


Services for Big Island native Wesley Batalona, one of four civilians brutally killed in Iraq, have been set for Saturday morning in Honokaa, Hawaii.

Friends may also call Friday night at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Honokaa Ward.

The Paauilo resident's remains arrived in the Big Island yesterday afternoon, according to the Dodo Mortuary in Hilo, which is handling the funeral arrangements. Batalona, 48, and three of his colleagues were killed in an ambush in Fallujah, Iraq, on March 31.

The four were working for Blackwater Security when their vehicle was hit by rocket-propelled grenades.

Their charred bodies were then mutilated and dragged through the streets.

Batalona joined the military out of high school in1974 and returned to the Hamakua Coast several years ago after a career as an Army Ranger with the First 75th Ranger Battalion and Third 75th Ranger Battalion. He was also an R.O.T.C. instructor.

He had worked security at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Kohala Coast before going to Iraq this year.

"He loved his family very much, his wife and his daughter," Batalona's older sister, Uilani Shibata, told the Star-Bulletin earlier this month.

Friends and family say Batalona loved to fish, browse the Internet and tell stories.

"I admired him because for a local boy, he has such high hopes and dreams," Batalona's sister-in-law Darla Baquiring told the Associated Press. "And with him being over there, it shows he followed through with them."

Batalona's visitation is scheduled for Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Honokaa Ward.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the church. Burial will follow at the Honokaa County Cemetery.

Batalona is survived by wife June, daughter Kristal, father Joseph, mother-in-law Violet Baquiring, brothers Joseph and Kaai, sisters Clytie Wong, Velma Muraoka, Uilani Shibata, Mathilda Mason, Aloha Dela Rose and Krisann.

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