Four Americans who died in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack have been awarded with Congressional Gold Medals in a bipartisan bill to honor their legacy a decade later.
The bill, signed into law last week, commends two former Navy SEALs, an ex-airman, and the then-ambassador to Libya, who “selflessly sacrificed their own lives” to protect American property and personnel during the attack.
“These men are heroes,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), “and rightly deserve the Congressional Gold Medal for their distinguished service and sacrifice to our nation.”
The attack began on Sept. 11, 2012, when Islamist militants launched an organized strike on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The next day, the group attacked a nearby CIA facility with mortars.
In the first attack, the ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, became the first American ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979. Sean Smith, a State Department worker formerly of the Air Force, was also killed.
Security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, both former Navy SEALs, were killed in the second attack.
The four killed in Benghazi have now each been bestowed the highest honor Congress can give: the Congressional Gold Medal.
“Today, my heart is bursting with many feelings, and words fall empty as I try to express the overwhelming joy and elation I feel,” said Tyrone Woods’ mother, Cheryl Croft Bennett, in a press release. “It is fitting that we honor them with this award. They earned every gram of it.”
“Our family is thrilled,” said Glen Doherty’s sister, Kate. “We are tremendously grateful for this honor.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), said it took “more than a decade of collective effort” to see it through.
“The enactment of this bill would not have been possible without the family members, pro bono counsel, and other stakeholders who relentlessly advocated on behalf of our four fallen heroes,” Lynch said.