Normally this’s a Republican opinion column, but sometimes it’s necessary to rise above partisan politics.
While Sept. 11 occurred last week, it’s too important to ignore. What follows has been taken from a couple of different sources.
Following Muammar Gaddafi’s death, Libya remained mostly ungoverned, its cities and surrounding areas filled with chaos.
Militant, radical Islamic groups were rising in power as the fledgling government struggled. A major intelligence hub during the Libyan revolution, Benghazi acted as home base for CIA operatives in the area. However, the personnel and facility were classified until following the events of that fatal night.
On the evening of Sept. 11, 2012, the U.S. State Department consular compound came under coordinated attack by Islamic terrorists.
The CIA base (also called the “Annex”) was one mile down the road. As the sound of gunfire and explosions echoed throughout the city, six security officers, all ex-military and security contractors at the base, geared up and prepared for action.
They were: Mark Geist (former Marine), Kris “Tanto” Paronto (former Army Ranger), John “Tig” Tiegen (former Marine) and Tyrone Woods (former SEAL). The identities of the remaining two operatives, a former Marine and a former SEAL, remain confidential even today. Fully armed and vehicles load
Fully armed and vehicles loaded, they were suddenly told to stand down, to instead let the Libyans guarding the compound handle the situation. But the Libyan guards fled while the security team waited impatiently as increasingly desperate distress calls continued to arrive from the burning compound.
Finally, orders be damned. Americans were dying and the men decided they weren’t going to wait any longer.
Using armored vehicles, the six men set out towards the compound, but the last part of the one-mile journey had to be made on foot. When they arrived, Ambassador Chris Stevens was already missing and officer Sean Smith dead.
Before the team could retreat back to the Annex with the surviving State Department staff, a firefight broke out at the compound. The team fought back, protecting the personnel until they were able to load into the armored vehicles and return to the Annex.
However, shortly after reaching their base, it too came under attack. The firefight waged through the night, as security operatives Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty lost their lives from mortar fire.
Flying in from Tripoli when the first distress calls were sent, Doherty had been the only support to come for the security team that fateful night. No other air or ground support was dispatched, and the men were left on their own defending the Annex until all were evacuated and heading to the airport.
Even as the security team members fought for their lives and those they protected, elsewhere in Benghazi, Ambassador Christopher Stevens was horrifically tortured and killed.
Men do not die until they are forgotten.
Do not forget the men who lost their lives that fateful night. Do not forget those men who stood their ground and refused to stand by while their fellow Americans were being attacked and killed.
Do not forget Christopher Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty.