Editorial Review by Dalton Sweat of the Wimberley View:
The night of Sept. 11, 2012 has become a night of infamy as four people died in a terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Kris Paronto was a security contractor protecting CIA assets in Benghazi the night of the attack, and last weekend he shared his heroic tale at the Wimberley VFW. “He did not go near the political stuff. He said he could only talk about what he knew and saw first hand,” Lee Colee, owner of Black Diamond Cabaret Theatre, which brought Paronto to Wimberley, said. “He then took the stage and acted out his story, which had the audience spell bound and absolutely silent. He is such an effective speaker he made you feel you were really there in the middle of the battle dodging bullets and feeling the pain of watching your buddies die.” It was a gruesome insight into the world of warfare. Paronto talked him and his team running into the burning consulate to try and find Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Once the consulate was abandoned, the team moved back to their compound where a firefight ensued. After fending off the attack, there was a two-hour break before the enemy returned – a time in which they found out the ambassador was dead.
“He pulled no punches about what is involved in that kind of work and the mindset you have to have,” Colee said. “Some of the things he was describing were gut wrenching like the specifics of watching two of your buddies die, and then watch someone throw them off the roof for efficiency sake.” One particularly insightful story was that of his friend Oz who was shot by an mortar. When he was hit by a mortar, Oz’ arm was essentially severed. He kept trying to hold his rifle up but couldn’t. Oz kept flopping his hanging limb from side to side saying as if to say ‘hey guys look at this’ for a joke. “There were these gruesome, but what he thought, in that mindset, were comedic stories,” Colee said. After 13 hours, a convoy showed up to take what was left of his team to the airport. As they began to carry Oz to the plane he told them “I walked into Benghazi, I’m going to walk out of it,” and he walked to the plan himself. “It was that mindset of never give up,” Colee said. “That is what got them through it.” Even among these terrifying stories, there were plenty of moments of levity during the presentation by Paronto. Children from Black Diamond Cabaret started out the evening by singing patriotic songs. “Kris fell in love with the kids who presented the concert in his honor,” Colee said.
Paronto even went into the crowd to film the kids “like a proud parent,” winning over the crowd in a hurry. Paronto is one of the co-writers of the book 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which is being turned into a movie set to release in January of 2016. “He is the real Jason Borne,” Colee said. “He is a humble, charming, overgrown little boy with a lot of charm. He is a delightful and a sweetheart. There was no phoniness or arrogance. It was just him.”