Pope Sends Condolences to Families Of Men Killed in Bosnia Copter Crash

SPOTSYLVANIA — Pope John Paul II sent his condolences to the families of the two Spotsylvania men who were among those killed in a United Nations helicopter crash in Bosnia Sept. 17. International police officers (above) carry the coffin of one of their fallen comrades Sept. 22 in Bosnia. David (Kris) Kriskovich and Livio (Al) Beccaccio, members of St. Matthew Church in Spotsylvania, were traveling with a contingent of U.N. officials in dense fog when their helicopter crashed into a Bosnian mountainside. All 12 passengers, including three other Americans, were killed. Four members of the Ukrainian crew survived. Both Kriskovich and Beccaccio were retired FBI agents. They had been in Bosnia since March, helping to rebuild the country’s police force. They recently made a religious pilgrimage to Medjugorje, the site in Bosnia-Herzegovina where apparitions of the Virgin Mary reportedly have been taking place since 1981. Beccaccio’s wife, Ann, was in Bosnia visiting him at the time of the accident. "I convey to Mrs. Barbara Kriskovich and to Mrs. Ann Beccaccio, and to their respective families, heartfelt condolences and spiritual solidarity on behalf of His Holiness Pope John Paul II," said Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, apostolic pro-nuncio to the United States. "Both families may be assured that David and Al, as well as their collaborators who died in the service of peace, are now included in the Holy Father’s prayers for the eternal repose of their souls. "May this be a source of consolation for all who mourn the passing of these men," Archbishop Cacciavillan said. "David and Al and those who died with them will receive a special remembrance in my own prayers as well." "My dad died trying to keep the peace," said Kriskovich’s son, Michael. "He died trying to help people, and that was what he most loved doing." "My father was friends with everyone," said his daughter, Danya Kriskovich Ivory. "He felt like he needed to do good for humanity. He was a humanitarian in his community and worldwide." A memorial Mass for both men was celebrated on Thursday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at St. Mary Church in Fredericksburg. The celebrant was Father John Cregan, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria and former associate pastor at St. Matthew Church. The homilist was Father Jack Peterson, associate pastor at St. Matthew. The crash shocked the sizable group of foreigners working for international organizations in Bosnia. A number of journalists reportedly were in tears at the news conference announcing the incident. A public memorial service honoring the 12 men was held Sept. 20 in Sarajevo. Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo presided. "The tragic loss of these gifted and dedicated representatives of the international community is a sorrowful blow to their organizations and to everyone working for peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina," said U.S. General Eric K. Shinseki, commander of the NATO-led peace mission in Bosnia. Among those killed was Gerd Wagner, 55, a German mediator who was one of two senior deputies to Carlos Westendorp, the top international representative in Sarajevo trying to implement a peace plan. Wagner was a highly respected and well-liked diplomat who served as a political officer at the German Embassy in Washington until he was sent to Bosnia earlier this summer. Kriskovich, 56, was serving as deputy director of the International Police Task Force in Bosnia. The former Army Green Beret who served in Vietnam had recruited Beccaccio, 58, his best friend and neighbor, to assist in the task force. Both men lived on Courthouse Road in rural Spotsylvania County, just south of Fredericksburg. The two friends met at the FBI Academy in Quantico in the 1970s. "They came to Mass together every morning," said Linda Long, a friend and music director at St. Matthew Church. The two men served as Eucharistic ministers at the church. Kriskovich was founder, developer and director of the FBI’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. Its mission was to stabilize and fortify emerging foreign democracies by improving their criminal justice systems. He also helped develop the FBI’s Strategic Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. He retired from the bureau in 1994 and took a consulting job with Scientific Applications International Corp. Beccaccio, a native of Newburgh, N.Y., retired as chief of the FBI’s national police academy in 1995. He graduated from Florida State University in 1963 with a bachelor of science degree in criminology. He later earned master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma and American University in health/fitness management and public administration. A Marine Corps veteran, Beccaccio joined the Oakland California Police Department in 1964 following a brief stint as an agent for the Office of Naval Intelligence. He entered on duty as a special agent with the FBI in 1968, serving in field offices in Tampa, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. He was transferred to the FBI Academy’s Training Division in 1975. He was promoted to chief of the Physical Training Unit in 1980 and served there until 1987 when he was named chief of the FBI’s National Academy Program. In that capacity, he oversaw the training of thousands of high-level police administrators from the U.S. and 116 foreign nations. This included training in law, behavioral science, management, forensics and communications. He served in this capacity until his retirement. Beccaccio’s family said he saw his recent U.N. assignment as an opportunity to improve the lives of those in need. Kriskovich’s wife, Barbara, is a biology teacher at Spotsylvania High School. Her husband was scheduled to return home in October and was looking forward to seeing his first grandchild — a baby girl who was born Sept. 5 to Mark and Danya Kriskovich. Kriskovich’s hobby was raising Clydesdale horses. His farm, Trieste, was the top Clydesdale breeding farm on the East Coast. He also was an announcer at major draft horse shows in the U.S. and Canada. Kriskovich was active in social concerns at St. Matthew Church, according to Father Majka. Last December, Kriskovich hitched two of his horses to a wagon and drove through several neighborhoods collecting canned goods for the needy. Father Majka said he first met the Beccaccio family 20 years ago when they were members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Lake Ridge and Father Majka was their pastor. In addition to his wife, Ann, Beccaccio is survived by one daughter, Lisa Lupton of Winchester; four sons, Albert of Herndon, Edward of Garrisonville, Christopher of Spotsylvania and John of Heidelberg, Germany; one granddaughter, Jessica Beccaccio; and two sisters, Alberta Britzke of Newburgh, N.Y. and Cathy Hensley of Stockbridge, Ga. In addition to his wife, Barbara, Kriskovich is survived by two daughters, Elizabeth Tansing of Vienna and Danya Kriskovich Ivory; one granddaughter, Elise Annemarie Ivory; his parents, Joseph and Rose Kriskovich of Ashland, Wis.; one son, Michael, of Fredericksburg; two brothers, Tom of Ashland and Dean of Plainfield, Ind.; and one sister, Diane of Denver. In the spirit of Beccaccio’s peace keeping mission to Bosnia, his family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to: National Right to Life Committee, 419 7th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004; or Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, 1244 V St., S.E., Washington, D.C. 20020. Copyright ?1997 Arlington Catholic Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

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