In one of the most dangerous places in the world, three military heroes say faith helped them survive the terror attack on the U.S. Consulate and CIA Annex in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
The Sept. 11, 2012, attack that left four Americans dead — U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and State Dept. computer expert Sean Smith — is documented in the book, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, that has been turned into the upcoming film “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”
Marines Mark “Oz” Geist, John “Tig” Tiegen and former Army Ranger Kris “Tanto” Paranto were among six CIA contractors who risked their lives to save Americans working at the State Dept.’s Special Mission Compound.
Now that their first-hand account of the tragic events are being turned into a movie, the three security operators are using the platform to speak about their Christian faith. Paronto believes God protected him, saying, “(God) was taking care of us, He was watching out for us and He got us out of some situations,” in a video interview shared with The Christian Post, titled “The Real Heroes of 13 Hours: God Was With Us.”
While Geist suffered severe injuries to his arm that required him to undergo over a dozen surgeries, he says his relationship with God reminds him that helping others is more important that his own needs. “I’ve always had that strong relationship with God and that’s what’s gotten me through life. It’s not about dying, it’s about how you live your life,” Geist affirms. “My life has always been about serving others and putting me and what’s important to me second.” Tiegen adds that his Christian faith is an important component that guides him during life’s most threatening situations, such as the terror attack in Benghazi. “Faith means quite a bit to me, it’s just something that kind of guides you. It’s not about dying, it’s about how you live your life.”
In October 2015, during a House Select Committee on Benghazi in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provided testimony, it was revealed that the consulate in Benghazi lacked security and despite repeated requests for supplies from the Obama administration, were forced to buy “fire sale” security items, including barricades, from other Western countries. Tiegen told The American Spectator in September 2014 that the consulate was lacking in security detail. “Even the very first trip that I did down in Benghazi, they were shorthanded. There’d be only like two Americans on that compound … just two RSOs [Regional Security Officers] sitting there, not doing anything. Or they’d go on a move and only leave one American on the compound.
They were always understaffed and basically no security. I mean, the guys at the gate, they had no weapons; I don’t even think they had batons. There was a total lack of security over there.”
Speaking about the instability in Benghazi, Geist describes the region as “one of the most dangerous places in the world.” Yet, Paronto explains that faith enabled them to go beyond the call of duty to save lives and put their colleagues ahead of themselves. “God and service kind of go hand-in-hand. You’re doing something honorable that’s above yourself,” Paronto adds in the “The Real Heroes of 13 Hours” interview. “Faith teaches you how to live with courage, how to live with honor, gives you something to strive for.”