Exclusive: Benghazi Hero Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto on ’13 Hours’

Kris Paronto (Chris Graythen / Getty)
Chris Graythen / Getty

IRVINE, CA — Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto sat down exclusively with Breitbart News to discuss the rescue of Americans during the September 11, 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya and the upcoming movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

Four Americans died in the attack: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

“The film is based off of the book which was based off of the true story of what happened to the guys on the ground, our team.” Paronto said. “It took all of our accounts all our surviving members into account, of course we lost Ty [Woods] and Glen [Doherty] that night.”

“It’s very representative of what our perceptions were on the ground,” Paronto added. “It doesn’t get into the political foray. It doesn’t get in the political realm. Honestly, the truth doesn’t need to get political.”

Paronto spoke highly of Michael Bay’s work on the film and the authenticity achieved in the movie in representing what it felt like to be on the ground during the attack.

“What I like is he captured the brotherhood.” Paronto said those that consulted on the film were “involved from the beginning to the end.”

“Go be in war, go be in combat, that is what it is like.” Paronto said that for moviegoers, “You’re going to feel the emotions we felt that night.”

The “stand down” order that was hotly debated in the public arena is one of the aspects of the film Paronto was extremely glad to see included. “It was such a misrepresented fact, it was said, it wasn’t said.” Paronto confirmed, “It was said.”

What was it like to receive the stand down and wait orders during the attack? Paronto told Breitbart News:

15 minutes after the initial call and after we were already told to wait once and we get the stand down, it gets to be very frustrating….by us being in the military we are trained to listen to our leadership. So it’s very difficult, even though we know it’s not the right thing to do. Even though we know that man’s law, man’s rule is telling us we need to stand down and not go, your faith and your Christianity and your belief in your brothers is telling you no, you got to go you gotta go. So fighting against you’re having some intestinal, you having some internal turmoil going on. Now you can’t show that because you have civilians on the base and you start panic they’re going to panic.

Paronto recalled the moment when his team decided to go despite stand down orders.

When we heard on the radio from Alec Henderson–Alec Henderson, great guy, very good diplomatic security officer–hey if you guys don’t get here we’re all gonna *expletive* die, that’s finally when it kicked in that hey we’ve waited too long, we gotta go. So we disobeyed orders and we left and that was the right thing to do.

I wish we would have done it earlier. But that’s a regret that I’ll live with I guess for a long time.

Paronto said he hopes that one lesson people take away from watching the film will be not to let the little things get them down, and that there are still people out there who will sacrifice their lives to protect our freedoms.

“The movie should motivate you to realize that even when small, little bad things happen, that you can overcome them. We went through a lot of adversity, a lot of chances for us to just lay down and quit and we fought through it. I’m hoping that people that see that will maybe help them in their daily lives.

Paronto added, “Be comforted that there are still guys in this world that are going to stand up and tell the truth and do the right thing even if it costs them their life or their way of life.”

Mitchell Zuckoff, author of 13 Hours, the book on which the movie is based, participated in the script for the movie.

An early showing of the film was held at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton on Sunday. Paronto’s fellow team members that fought to save Americans during the Benghazi attack, Mark “Oz” Geist and John “Tig” Tiegen, answered questions for a crowd of mostly military families just before the film started.

When asked about the “stand down” order Tiegen told the audience that “it was harder to sit there and obey it than to disobey it.” Geist spoke of wanting to see Ansar al-Sharia–the terrorist group that executed the attack that night –held responsible.

The premiere for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is being held on Tuesday, January 12 in Dallas, Texas. The official release date is January 15 in theaters across the country.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana


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