Romney said that he met 42-year-old Glen Doherty at a Christmas party that he accidentally attended, thinking it was a neighborhood party to which he had been invited.
Standing in a wind-stricken cornfield in Central Iowa, Romney began, "This is kind of a strange story, so bear with me here."
Romney said that he had received an invitation in his mailbox for a neighborhood holiday party and had not intended to go until he saw the house across the street from him lit up in Christmas decorations and with people milling on the porch.
"People were on the porch. They were kind of looking over at our house and I thought, 'Oh, my goodness I wasn't planning on going to this, but we'll look like we're not social if we don't show up,'" Romney said. "So I said to Ann, 'We've got to go to this party. I got this flier about the neighborhood party. We gotta go over there,' so she said OK."
Romney said he and his wife had dinner, took photos with everyone and then realized they were at the wrong party.
"Turns out, this wasn't the neighborhood party," Romney said, laughing. "So we were a little embarrassed but they treated us well nonetheless and I got to meet some really interesting people."
One of those people was Doherty, a Massachusetts native with whom Romney said he talked at the party - about skiing, among other topics.
"He told me that he keeps going back to the Middle East. He cares very deeply about the people there," Romney recalled. " He served in the military there, went back from time to time to offer security services and so forth to people there. You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11."
"And it touched me obviously that I recognized that this young man that I thought was so impressive has lost his life in the service of his fellow men and women," said Romney, who said he learned from news reports that Doherty and his colleagues went to the consulate when they heard it was under attack. They "didn't hunker down where they were in safety," said Romney.
They rushed there to go help," Romney said. "This is the American way - we go where there's trouble. We go where we're needed. And right now we're needed. Right now the American people need us!"
At the time of Doherty's death, Romney issued a joint statement with his wife to offer his condolences to his family. An aide said Romney learned this past week from a neighbor that Doherty had been the same Navy SEAL he had spent time talking to at that Christmas Party.
Doherty was one of four Americans killed in the attack in Benghazi.