David J. Kriskovich and Livio A. Beccaccio bought 40 acres of farmland together 20 years ago, split it down the middle and built homes. Their houses share a driveway.
The farm where Kriskovich raised Clydesdale horses is called Trieste, after a region on the border between Italy and Croatia.
The name was a joke between the two men, one of Italian ancestry and the other the grandchild of Croatian immigrants.
On Wednesday, the two best friends died together in the same part of the world, when the U.N. helicopter they were riding in crashed into a fog-covered mountain in Bosnia.
“My dad died trying to keep the peace. He died trying to help people, and that was what he most loved doing,” said Kriskovich’s son, Mike.
Kriskovich, who founded the FBI’s training program for police forces in foreign democracies, went to Bosnia last spring as deputy director of the United Nations’ International Police Task Force. He asked Beccaccio to join him as his assistant.
Kriskovich retired from the FBI in 1994, and had worked as a foreign policy consultant since then.
Beccaccio, 58, who was known as Al, retired as chief of the FBI’s national police academy a year after his friend retired.
Beccaccio’s wife, Anne, was visiting him at the time of crash. Beccaccio’s son-in-law, Jamie Lupton, said the five Beccaccio children declined to comment until after Anne Beccaccio returns from Bosnia.
Kriskovich, 56, had cheated death many times, as an Army Green Beret in Vietnam and with the FBI on missions in far-flung danger zones.
“He always said he was coming home, and I always believed him because he always came home,” his wife, Barbara Kriskovich, said.
Kriskovich jumped at the chance to help in Bosnia, in part because of his heritage, family members said.
“It was important to him to be there, and he wanted Al with him,” Barbara Kriskovich said.
Kriskovich was excited by the prospect of returning home in October for the christening of his first grandchild, a girl who was born to his youngest daughter two weeks ago, his family said.
Three other Americans were among the 12 people who died in the worst accident of the peacekeeping effort in Bosnia. Four Ukrainian crew members survived the crash.
The delegation was en route to Muslim-controlled Bugojno, 55 miles northwest of Sarajevo, to encourage the continued return of ethnic Croat refugees to their pre-war homes.
The garrulous Kriskovich and his quieter friend met at the FBI Academy in Quantico in the 1970s. Both were devout Catholics and members of the same church.
“They came to Mass together every morning,” said Linda Long, a friend and music director at St. Matthew Catholic Church.
The friends sometimes called one another Joe and Tony, their fathers’ names.
Just before they left this spring, the two finished a farm project and memorialized it with a small sign. It reads: “Joe & Tony 3-10-97. Bosnia Bound.”
“You can look at it two ways. One is that they were best friends, they did everything together and they shared so much, so it’s good they went together. The other is just that it’s so, so sad,” said Debbie Jett, who lives on the next farm.