Former Army Ranger Kris “Tonto” Paronto, returns to DSU on a Media Tour to help set the record straight about the attacks on the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11, 2012.
After watching the teaser to his new feature film, Paronto entered the standing room only auditorium. Kris, who attended Dixie in the early 90’s started reminiscing his time spent on the football team and the life lessons he was taught on the same campus.
After 8 years in the Army he was discharged due to being diagnosed with Crone’s Disease. He found himself at a pivotal time in his life, his career was over, or so he thought. A month later he received a call from a private contracting company wanting him to go to work for them. He spent the next 10 years as one of the most sought after Security and Military Specialists. He landed a direct contract with the CIA, sending him to Libya as part of their Security Annex Team.
He tells the story of what happened that night, “It was a calm night. No protests, nothing happening.”
After receiving a couple calls of distress from the Consulate, their team went into protection mode. “You know when you play sports and you practice, practice, practice and when it’s game time you’re ready to go? It’s a lot like that.”
A reoccurring theme to his message is to find the positive and beauty in everything that happens in life. Good or bad.
Across the way from his station was the U.S. Consulate building. He stepped out the front door and about 3/4 of a mile in front go him was the Consulate compound.
Kris depicts in great detail the struggles that took place getting over to the compound. At times finding himself alone, having rounds exploding around him and high velocity bullets breaking the sound barrier, flying right past his head. “That’s a sound you will never forget. That snap as it breaks past your head.”
While he has a great sense of humor recalling this attack, he also remains a very strong message of God’s love. He finds himself in the middle of a field, no cover, rounds snapping on both sides of him, tracer rounds flying towards him. With a loud explosion by his right ear, he loses his hearing in that eat. Looks to his right and there is a local Libyan with an AK-47 firing with him against the attackers. “He’s got a nice button down shirt on and slacks, like he just got off work and I’m thinking, God dropped me a little Libyan Angel. To see him there was so motivating.”
All of the detail of what went on are depicted in the best-selling book and new Paramount Picture Film, 13 Hours. The memories will never leave him. His reason behind telling this story is for the truth and justice for those who were lost. He lost two good friends in this attack. He and the other 5 contracted soldiers gave up a lot to let their story and the truth be heard. “We have had some backlash with coming forward. We all lost our jobs with the CIA.” To them, the truth is worth more than the job. He lives his life by the motto, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Kris “Tonto” Paronto is a true American Hero. You can find his book at www.kristantoparonto.com and the film “13 Hours” is currently in theaters.