Obama Speaks at Ceremony as Four Americans Slain in Libya 'Come Home'
Ambassador, State Department worker, two ex-SEALs slain in attack in Benghazi.
Sept. 14, 2012 — -- intro: The bodies of the four Americans killed in a brazen assault on a diplomatic mission in Libya on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack, as President Obama said today, "have come home."
At a ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a ceremony when the remains of the victims arrived from overseas, sharing some details of the men who they said laid down their lives for their colleagues and for the United States.
"In our grief we will be resolute for we are Americans and we hold our head high," Obama said, addressing servicemen in the somber audience as a full Marine guard stood watch over four flag-draped coffins. "Because of these patriots, and because of you, this country that we love will always shine as a light onto the world."
"Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends," the president said, quoting scripture.
"The flag they served under now carries them home. May God bless the memories of these men who laid down their lives for us all."
Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs working under the State Department, were killed alongside U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and information management officer Sean Smith when a group of gunman launched an hours-long attack on a small compound in Benghazi in eastern Libya Tuesday. A senior administration official told reporters Wednesday that the Stevens and Smith apparently had been killed in the initial wave of attacks when the building they were in was set on fire. Doherty and Woods died later in a firefight trying to protect other Americans on the ground.
Click the name on the top right to learn more about the victims of Tuesday's attack.
ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Dana Hughes and Luis Martinez contributed to this report.
quicklist: 1category: Ambassador, Long-Serving Foreign Service Officertitle: Christopher Stevenstext: Upon hearing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens' death, President Obama issued a statement calling the career foreign service officer a "courageous and exemplary representative of the United States."
Stevens, who joined the State Department in 1991, spent more than two decades working in major cities across the Middle East and in Washington before taking on arguably his most dangerous assignment last year: establishing a diplomatic relationship with the rebel leadership in Libya in the midst of the violent revolution there.
With the country tearing itself apart in mid-2011 in a popular revolt that would eventually depose longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Stevens, then a special envoy, and a small diplomatic team used a Greek cargo vessel to slip into the country and enter the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The team arrived at a time when gunfire crackled nightly, but Stevens and the team stuck around until Stevens earned a "legendary" reputation in the country for his bravery and loyalty, according to Hannah Draper, a foreign service worker who worked for Stevens in Libya.
"Several Libyans have told me how much it means to them that he stayed here throughout the revolution, losing friends and suffering privations alongside ordinary Libyans," Draper wrote on her blog a month before Stevens' death. "We could not ask for a better ambassador to represent America during this crucial period in Libyan history."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who swore in Stevens to his ambassadorship after the revolution, said Stevens risked his life daily for the Libyan people.
"The world needs more Chris Stevenses," she said.
quicklist: 2category: Former Navy SEAL, Tracked Dangerous Weapons in Libyatitle: Glen Dohertytext: Just weeks before he was gunned down in Benghazi, former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty seemed calm and happy as he spoke to ABC News from his California home while he was on a short break from his duties in Libya.
In an interview in late August, Doherty told ABC News he was working as a contractor to the State Department on a crucial mission in the country to track down and destroy powerful shoulder-fired missiles that had been looted from Gadhafi's military installations during the uprising. U.S. officials previously said they were concerned the powerful weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists, creating a threat to commercial airliners.
Doherty returned to Libya from California just days before he died.
Whether protecting civilian strangers as they travel on airplanes or his colleagues on the ground in his last moments, Doherty's bravery and resolve in the face of danger was never in question, according to his former special operations teammates.
"Glen was a superb and respected operator, a true quiet professional," said Brandon Webb, Doherty's former SEAL teammate and best friend. Webb was one of several former commandos who spoke to Doherty's character after learning of his death.
"Glen Doherty was a true American hero in every essence of the word. He embodied the selfless spirit, unwavering determination to succeed, and dedication to our country that sets the standard for what every American should strive to be," friend and former SEAL Mike Ritland said.
But Webb said no one should feel sorry for Doherty.
"He wouldn't have it. He died serving with men he respected, protecting the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and doing something he loved. He was my best friend and one of the finest human beings I've ever known," Webb said.
Sonja Johnson, Doherty's former wife, told The Boston Globe that people close to Doherty had encouraged him to stay in the U.S. and find a safer line of work, but Doherty would have none of it.
"We knew this was his passion. This was what made him happy," she said.
The State Department declined to comment on Doherty's invovlement in the weapons mission and, when the department identified him as one of the dead, it only said the ex-SEAL "died the way he lived -- with selfless honor and unstinting valor."
quicklist: 3category: Former SEAL, Protected Diplomats the World Overtitle: Tyrone Woodstext: Tyrone Woods was killed just months after the birth of his third son, Kai, the State Department said.
The department said Woods, another former SEAL, had worked for the government for years providing security for American diplomats around the world.
He "had the hands of a healer as well as the arm of a warrior," the State Department said when identifying Woods as among the dead Thursday. In addition to serving with the SEALs for more than 20 years, Woods was a registered nurse and certified paramedic. After leaving the service, he worked with the State Department to protect diplomats from Central America to the Middle East, the department said.
Cheryl Bennett, Woods' mother, said her son "thrived on adrenaline and excitement and danger."
"Anytime he could jump out of a plane, whether it was at 15,000 feet or 30,000 feet, it didn't matter," Bennett told ABC News' Portland affiliate KATU.
Woods' high school wrestling coach, Ed Burton, told KATU he remembered Woods as a quiet athlete, but one with great determination.
"When I first heard the news and got through the shock and disappointment, my first recollection would be he probably died helping somebody," he said. "That would have been typical of him."
Woods' wife Dorothy gave birth to Kai "just a few months ago," the State Department said. Kai joins Woods' two other sons, Tyrone Jr. and Hunter.
quicklist: 4category: Information Management Officer, Virtual Intergalatic Herotitle: Sean Smithtext: State Department computer expert Sean Smith was reportedly spending a little down time chatting online when he heard the first signs of the attack in Benghazi. Speaking to a gamer friend, Smith wrote out an expletive, then "GUNFIRE," and signed off, never to return.
The gaming friend, Alex "The Mittani" Gianturco, recounted the interaction on his website and said he had been friends with Smith for six years "both in real life and in internet spaceships" as they played the massively popular sci-fi game "EVE." Smith had told him he was doing IT work in Libya for the State Department, just as he had for years in several countries before.
The State Department said Smith was an Air Force veteran who spent 10 years in the department as an information management officer. He was a husband and father of two children who the department said "will grow up being proud of the service their father gave to our country."
News of Smith's death spread quickly in the online gaming community and his passing was mourned in the virtual world as well as the real one.
"Many of us interacted with him professionally and personally and, honestly, it feels like our words are lost -- adrift amongst such a tremendous, soul-affirming outpouring from the 'EVE' community," Ned Coker, a spokesperson for the game's developer, told The Associated Press.
"I'm not sure if this is how I'm supposed to react to my friend being killed by a mob in a post-revolutionary Libya, but it's pretty awful and Sean was a great guy and he was a [expletive] master at this game we all play, even though a lot of people may not realize how significant an influence he had," Gianturco said on his website. "It seems kind of trivial to praise a husband, father, and overall badass for his skills in an internet spaceship game but that's how most of us know him, so there you go."
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