Benghazi hero and former Army Ranger Kris “Tanto” Paronto has added a self-help book to his repertoire.
“The Patriot’s Creed,” released Oct. 22, takes a different direction from Paronto’s other books. He authored “The Ranger Way” and co-authored “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Happened in Benghazi,” both of which were combat-focused titles, but his latest puts the focus on the stories of other heroes and their journeys after combat as a map for self-reflection and improvement.
For Paronto, who was one of the six CIA Annex contractors who freed fellow Americans from U.S. government facilities in Benghazi after the attacks in September 2012, talking about combat is easy and what’s popular. However, “it’s what happened after is that I want people to know about,” Paronto told American Military News.
The Patriot’s Creed focuses on the Army’s seven core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Each value is represented by the story of a hero who exemplified that value.
Paronto didn’t want to focus on the “terribleness” of what happened during combat, injuries, or the dark days and struggles that followed.
“I wanted to show people that happens to all of us. Everybody’s like that, even the military guys, and you can overcome that adversity,” he described. “Here are some people who overcame adversity and were at the lowest of the low and they pulled themselves out of it and became successful and happy.”
Those stories include combat survivors Scott Gearen, Rob Jaber, Ben Morgan, Israel Matos, Tom Block, and the family members of fallen members Alwyn Cashe and Ryan Doltz.
Several of the survivors had never spoken out about their injuries or their struggles.
Paronto said just speaking with them while writing the book was a learning experience that inspired him to more deeply reflect on his own life – something he hopes readers will be inspired to do.
“The biggest message is self-reflection,” he said. “I can see where I was failing at things in my life, morally, that I could’ve done better.”
Integrity stands out to Paronto as one of the top themes of the book, and has more emphasis on it than other self-help books, Paronto said. It’s a focus that seems to be inspired by failures on his own journey with self-reflection.
“I’ve failed so many times. I’ve done things wrong,” he admitted, adding that self-reflection helped him live his life more considerately to try harder to live out the values taught by the Army.
“Integrity is something that we’re lacking in today’s society. We could have all of the laws in the world, but if you don’t have integrity or virtue to adhere to those laws, it doesn’t make a difference,” he explained.
Every one of the survivors he spoke to demonstrated integrity, and Paronto wants to showcase that.
“We already know they overcame everything. They never gave up on themselves, they’re not giving up on themselves, but let’s look at how they’re doing that in their daily lives,” Paronto said. “Every one of them has integrity.
Paronto hopes he can honor the heroes in the book by sharing their stories and inspiring readers to overcome and turn their lives into something great.
“I learned from it,” Paronto said. “If I can learn from it and I wrote it, everyone can.”