There were two civilian helicopter teams I came to know, one from Bulgaria the other from Moldavia. They were among the many former Cold War “enemies” contracted in this post-Cold War, post-9/11 war.
Lubo piloted the team from Bulgaria. On my birthday we got stranded at the Baghdad airport. It was two days after the elections. He and his Bulgarian team raided their precious care packages and prepared the closest thing you can get to a feast while stuck at the Baghdad airport on your birthday: Bulgarian cheese, sausage, wine and cookies. Lubo told me he was debating whether to continue working in Iraq. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, he and his team had gone from conflict zone to conflict zone, often in support of U.N. missions, but he said nothing was as dangerous as Iraq.
One month later I was back in New York and got an email news alert: “Civilian helicopter shot down in Iraq.” I knew. Later that night I got a call from Andre. Lubo was the only person who survived the crash. He had broken his leg and was seeking cover when the gunmen found and executed him. It was videotaped. On the morning TV news the next day there was Lubo turning to the gunman and pleading for help before being executed.