On 9/11 every year we remember those who perished at the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists in New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania in 2001.
While we remember those lost ones we need to remember another terrorist attack that took place eleven years later in Benghazi, Libya. America lost four brave men, but could have lost a lot more if it was not for the military men who did not quit during a 13 hour gunfight with terrorists.
In 2012, the people of Libya rose up and overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi. This caused chaos as people raided Gaddafi’s massive military arms and weapons. Radical Islamic terrorist groups took advantage of this power vacuum, infiltrating the riots and causing more problems.
Ansar al-Sharia is one of those radical Islamic groups. This group attacked our people on September 11, 2012.
The attack began at 9:40 PM and lasted for 13 hours. America lost Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, US Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyron Woods.
I’ve found conflicting stories on the death of Stevens. After the militants exploded their way into the consulate they doused the area outside of the safe room with diesel fuel and set it alight. This forced Stevens, Smith, and bodyguard Scott Wickland to evacuate through windows. The three got separated since the diesel fuel formed a thick black smoke.
Wickland went back into the consulate four times to find Stevens and Smith, but did not find anyone.
Witnesses claim they saw Libyans drag Stevens out of the room and brought him to the hospital. Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid said he tried to resuscitate the ambassador for 45 minutes. Stevens died of smoke inhalation, the same way Smith died.
American government officials dragged their feet in different locations around the world, including only 400 miles away in Tripoli. The responsibility to protect the CIA agents fell on the soldiers of former military turned CIA contractors.
These brave men defended the annex, but Doherty and Woods died when the terrorists resorted to a mortar attack.
Former Army Ranger Kris “Tanto” Paronto was one of those heroes who saved over 20 people.
Paronto spoke to Fox News about Benghazi about lessons we all could learn from the terrorist attack:
“I still speak quite a bit about lessons learned from Benghazi and other deployments,” he told Fox News. “To me, it really doesn’t seem like that long ago; it’s still on the forefront of my mind. Looking back, I’ve always thought of it as a heroic time – guys laid their lives on the line, and two of our teammates died saving peoples’ lives.”
While he’s often thought about what happened and the memory of his teammates Doherty and Woods, Paronto says he opted to look for the silver lining rather than stew about what “could” have happened.
He has traveled across the country speaking at various events and to corporate groups, sharing the lessons of Benghazi.
“It’s not just the success of leadership and never giving up, never quitting on yourself in the face of adversity,” Paronto said. “It’s the failures, too.”
Paronto slammed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the past for not taking action months before the attack. Stevens sent numerous requests for more security. He alerted the State Department as much as he could about people following him and his staff.
But Paronto has chosen to use Benghazi to help people “and bring people together rather than push them apart.”
Paronto stressed you cannot “keep ramming your head against a brick wall.”
Another lesson from Benghazi? When you fall off your horse you get back up on the horse.
In other words, you do not quit:
“Do we stop fighting because ‘Bub’ and Tyrone just got blown up? Or, do we keep fighting through that until we come out the other side?” Paronto asked.
“Never quit – it’s a common theme with a lot of veterans, and it’s especially true of the Special Operations community,” he said. “You just don’t give up, no matter what’s going on or what you’re going through. You take steps forward and eventually, you’ll come out of it,”
“I’m not the strongest person in the room when I talk to groups,” Paronto added. “But, if I can fight through the death of my teammates, watching them die, then you can push on if something in your life is not what you want it to be.”
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