09:43 AM

Paranto Shares Details of Benghazi Attack

Paranto Shares Details of Benghazi Attack

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Kris Paranto, former Army Ranger and member of the civilian security team that responded during the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, painted a vivid picture of the attack during the State of Security in the Heartland and Beyond event Friday, the third anniversary of the Benghazi attack.

The Security in the Heartland and Beyond event was put together by Professor Greg Allen and the University’s Security Management programs. SAC Federal Credit Union, led by CEO Gail DeBoer, University alum, sponsored the event.

Paranto held little back as he detailed how the attack unfolded.

“I’m going to tell you some stuff that might be offensive, but it’s the truth,” Paranto said. “I feel like you need to know.”

The event kicked off with a trailer for the upcoming film 13 Hours, which recounts the battle. The film is scheduled to be released in January 2016. Paranto helped co-author the book on which the film is based.

ParantoeditFour Americans were killed during the attack: Libyan Ambassador U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, Security Operative Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty, a CIA Operative.

While Paranto eschewed politics during the presentation, he did try to correct some misconceptions and misinformation that surround the Benghazi attack.

“Throughout that day it was calm, calm for Benghazi,” he said. “There was no protest. There was no indication that there was going to be a protest."

Paranto said the first indication of trouble came at 9:32 p.m.

“Immediately as you get out the door, the consulate is three-quarters of a mile away as the crow flies, you can see the tracers popping,” he said.

Within five minutes, Paranto and his teammates were ready to go, but they were told to wait.

“You’re seeing a fire fight going on. We share frequency with the state department. They're coming across the radio going ‘We need your help guys. We need you here now’,”Paranto said.

When the team finally got permission to roll out, they found the way blocked and were only able to drive halfway there. Half the team continued on foot, jumping through yards and over fences, while the other half of the team fired on the blockade. By the time they reached the compound, 50 minutes had passed since the first sign of trouble, Paranto said.

“The whole compound is completely on fire,” Paranto said. “When you’re in war your senses are intensified times 10. That orange is most vivid, bright orange I have ever seen in my life. It was incredible.”

The team worked to clear the buildings and locate Ambassador Stevens. They were able to locate Smith, but he had already died from smoke inhalation. They were unable to locate Stevens, who was found later by local civilians barely alive. He died after 90 minutes of resuscitation efforts.

Still under attack, survivors from the consulate and the rescue team escaped back to the annex, where the rescue team was housed, but the battle was far from over.

Paranto’s team had a plan in place to defend the annex and they were able to repeal repeated attacks through the night, but they did lose Woods and Doherty when a mortar hit their position. The team and the group that they defended were not able to escape the compound until a convoy of about 50 vehicles manned by local militia friendly to the Americans escorted them to the Bengahzi airport.

While most of the group left on a charter jet that had come from Tripoli, Paranto and the rest of the rescue team were still at the airport. They were not able to leave until they convinced the pilot of a Libyan C-130 to fly them out.

“Nobody was coming for us. It’s sad, but it’s the truth,” Paranto said.

Paranto said he takes comfort in the brotherhood he had with his team that became even more apparent when they came under fire.

“We actually worked as a team,” he said. “We dealt with adversity and found a way out of there.”