By Patrick Lacombe
Former Army Ranger Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the six U.S. security contractors at the secret CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11. 2012, made a stop in Belton last Wednesday. Paronto attended a special showing of the movie, “13 Hours: The secret soldiers of Benghazi,” hosted by the Central Texas Republican Women.
The movie played on two screens at Belton’s Grand Avenue Theater simultaneously across the hall from each other. Veterans and active duty personnel watched for free along with a VIP showing on the second screen. Paronto shared the details of the attacks with the audiences of both screenings.
“Tanto”, as he is known in security contracting circles, is a former Army Ranger from 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment and private security contractor who has deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa.
He also worked with the US Government’s Global Response Staff, conducting low profile security in high threat environment throughout the world. Paronto was part of the CIA annex security team that responded to the terrorist attack on the US Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, September 11, 2012, helping to save over 20 lives while fighting off terrorists from the CIA Annex for over 13 hours. Paronto’s story is told in the book “13 Hours” written by Mitchell Zuckoff and his five surviving annex security team members.
Prior to the movie, Paronto fielded questions from the media.
He was asked how he felt about being a hero, to which he responded, “I don’t see myself as a ‘Hero’. I didn’t do anything but my job that night. I did things that I think anybody would have done as long as they are willing to sacrifice their lives for others.”
Asked about his reaction to the film, Paronto replied, “Actually I’ve been enjoying it. It’s a bit therapeutic and it’s nice to see the truth has finally got out there. For almost three years we’ve been fighting the ‘Political agendas that slammed what actually happened out there that night.
To me it’s a bit of vindication and people are actually seeing the truth and they are seeing the apolitical or non political truth. As long as people keep seeing the truth, I’m happy.”
In the movie, Paronto was played by “Pablo Schreiber” and according to him, the movie was true to form.
Paronto said that the biggest difference in the film and actual events was the subject of faith.
“There was a very strong faith in God that night. God is not a politically correct term in Hollywood. The book gets into more detail and I wish the movie had done more of it.”
Speaking again on the authenticity of the film, Paronto noted, “They (Directors) showed combat in it’s true form.
In combat, there’s a lot of times you’re scared. There’s times when you’re having fun and cracking jokes.
There’s machismo in there but in combat, there’s times when it’s funny. You just put faith in your brothers and faith in God and in yourself.”
Speaking of the political ramifications of the film, Paronto said, “I don’t get into politics in ‘13 Hours’ because it’s not a political story. Politics dishonors the memories of those that died that night. A lot of people on the left are refusing to see the movie because they think it’s about destroying Hillary Clinton’s political career, but it’s not. They are missing a good movie about overcoming adversity. The State Department did not issue the order to ‘Stand down’. The order came from our Chief of Base. To be honest, I think he was overwhelmed and instead of letting us (Security Contractors) handle it, his pride got in the way and that was a leadership mistake.”