Our Featured PHF Story

The "Blackwater 4"

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The story of Raven 23 is one of extraordinary loyalty, faith and brotherhood, and of our duty to preserve the rights won by generations of American fighters. It is the coming-together of four small towns and unlikely allies in U.S. power centers to right a grievous wrong.

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Their Story

In September 2007, four patriotic Americans, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough were serving as armed State Department guards in Baghdad were providing security to U.S. officials and diplomats. Their employer, Blackwater, had long been the primary security contractor to the State Department in Iraq, and the State Department required that they be heavily armed with military-grade weaponry. On September 16, their unit, called Raven 23, was dispatched to secure Nisur Square, a Baghdad intersection and a well-known epicenter for insurgent violence, for a convoy transporting a senior diplomat to safety shortly after another car-bomb attack. Fearing a secondary attack when a car suspected of carrying a bomb suddenly drove toward them and they began taking small arms fire, the guards opened fire to disable the car and defend themselves. The diplomat was safely evacuated.

Did these brave heroes receive medals, honors, and the gratitude of the diplomatic corps? Far from it. Instead, they were prosecuted by the Justice Department under laws meant to cover military personnel, and sentenced under laws meant to punish armed drug dealers. Forced to give statements by State Department investigators who threatened to fire them, subjected to “reckless” Constitutional violations and deprived of crucial defense evidence by Justice Department prosecutors, three were sentenced to thirty years and the fourth faced the possibility of a life sentence after being convicted in a second retrial. None of these men have ever denied that the shootings took place, but the dangerous wartime circumstances of those events have never properly or fully been taken into account.

Like Eddie and Andrea’s story, the combined power of families, communities and growing outrage over the treatment of these decorated veterans brought their story to national headlines.

On December 23rd, 2020 all four of these decorated veterans moved a President to give them back their freedom with a full pardon.

While they are now reunited with their families and friends, they have also found themselves with financial hardships including legal fees that should have never been incurred.

We ask you to please join The Piper Hitter Foundation in supporting these four freedom fighters in making a contribution today!

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