Skip to main content

Ex-SEALs, online gaming maven among Benghazi dead

By Matt Smith, CNN
September 14, 2012 -- Updated 0053 GMT (0853 HKT)
Sean Smith, left, and Glen Doherty died in the recent attacks on the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Sean Smith, left, and Glen Doherty died in the recent attacks on the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi, Libya.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Tyrone Woods' friends and family called him "Rone," Clinton says
  • Security officer Glen Doherty was searching for anti-aircraft missiles, source says:
  • Computer expert Sean Smith was renowned in a gamer's universe
  • Both died in Benghazi with Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya

(CNN) -- Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were former Navy SEAL commandos working as diplomatic security officers. Sean Smith was a computer expert with an online alter-ego legendary in the gaming world.

The three men and U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens died in the assault on the American consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Details of how they met their fates in the Mediterranean city that had been the cradle of Libya's 2011 revolution were just beginning to emerge Thursday.

On Thursday, a U.S. official confirmed Woods as among the dead. "Tyrone's friends and colleagues called him 'Rone,' and they relied on his courage and skill, honed over two decades as a Navy SEAL," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement.

"In uniform, he served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2010, he protected American diplomatic personnel in dangerous posts from Central America to the Middle East. He had the hands of a healer as well as the arm of a warrior, earning distinction as a registered nurse and certified paramedic. All our hearts go out to Tyrone's wife Dorothy and his three sons, Tyrone Jr., Hunter, and Kai, who was born just a few months ago."

A diplomatic source told CNN that Doherty was in Libya to search for shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles -- a mission given high priority after the fall of longtime Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

Doherty grew up in Massachusetts with a passion for the outdoors, particularly the mountain West, his family said. Outside the family's home in Woburn, near Boston, his sister remembered him as "our American hero."

Attackers set the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on fire on September 11, 2012. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other U.S. nationals were killed during the attack. The Obama administration initially thought the attack was carried out by an angry mob responding to a video, made in the United States, that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. But the storming of the mission was later determined to have been a terrorist attack. Attackers set the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on fire on September 11, 2012. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other U.S. nationals were killed during the attack. The Obama administration initially thought the attack was carried out by an angry mob responding to a video, made in the United States, that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. But the storming of the mission was later determined to have been a terrorist attack.
Attack on U.S. mission in Benghazi
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Attack on U.S. mission in Benghazi Photos: Attack on U.S. mission in Benghazi

"Glen lived his life to the fullest," Katie Quigley told reporters. "He was my brother, but if you ask his friends, he was their brother as well."

Arrest made in connection with deadly assault on U.S. consulate in Libya

The 42-year-old graduated from high school in 1988 in neighboring Winchester, where flags were displayed at half-staff on Thursday. He played on the varsity tennis and wrestling teams, school officials said in an announcement marking his death. His junior-year English teacher, Judy Hession, recalled him as "bursting with life."

"Every day his huge smile and his happy-go-lucky optimism filled my classroom," Hession said in a statement released by the school district. "He got along with all types of people, was a class leader and, from the perspective of 30 years of teaching, one of my most memorable students."

After college in Arizona and stints as a "ski bum" and raft guide in Utah, Doherty joined the Navy and became a member of the elite Navy SEAL commandos in 1995, his family said in a statement. He had planned to leave the service after knee surgery in 2001, but after the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, he "was not allowed to to leave and didn't want to," his family said.

U.S. Navy Seal killed in Libyan attack
Suspects in Benghazi consulate attack
Middle East Unrest Spikes
Does the US need to up security abroad?

Doherty served two tours of duty in Iraq, starting with the U.S. invasion in 2003, before leaving the military in 2005. He then became a private security contractor, working in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen -- a job that took a toll on his home life and contributed to a divorce, his family said.

He also joined the advisory board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group that has battled religious intolerance in the U.S. armed forces. Its president, former Air Force officer Michael "Mikey" Weinstein, said he was "in a state of shock" after learning of Doherty's death.

4 killed as Yemeni police, demonstrators clash at U.S. Embassy

"He was one of our most active advisory board members," Weinstein said. "I was surprised he was willing to come on and lend the gravitas that comes with being a Navy SEAL to our cause." Doherty's involvement "made it easier for others to come to us," Weinstein added.

He said Doherty believed the kind of violent jihadists American troops faced were "a very small percentage of the overall mosaic of the Muslim faith," and saw anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States and in the ranks as something that hurt U.S. national security.

"He went back to the Middle East because he cared deeply about the Muslim people, and because he cared about bringing freedom and democracy and human rights to the Middle East," Weinstein said. Doherty "was a kind and caring person, and I'm sure that he gave every last bit of his courage and strength" to defend the consulate and Stevens, he added.

"All this is going to do is light a further fire under us in Glen's name and memory to continue to fight for religious freedom and respect and tolerance."

He also co-authored a 2010 book, "The 21st-Century Sniper: A Complete Practical Guide," with former comrade Brandon Webb. In a statement accompanying the family's, Webb said, "Don't feel sorry for him, he wouldn't have it."

"He died serving with men he respected, protecting the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and doing something he loved," Webb said.

In her statement, Clinton said Doherty, a paramedic, was referred to as "Bub" by his friends and family. "In the end, he died the way he lived -- with selfless honor and unstinting valor," she said.

Smith's death was among the first reported in the Benghazi fracas. Clinton eulogized him Wednesday as a 10-year veteran of the Foreign Service, an information management officer who had served in Iraq, South Africa, Canada and the Netherlands.

In real life, he was an Air Force veteran with a wife, a son and a daughter. But in the virtual universe of the computer game EVE Online, Smith was "Vile Rat" -- one of the leaders of a gamer's alliance renowned for his diplomatic skill in the multi-player space warfare simulation.

Arabic press condemns violence, film-maker

"If you play this stupid game, you may not realize it, but you play in a galaxy created in large part by Vile Rat's talent as a diplomat. No one focused as relentlessly on using diplomacy as a strategic tool as VR," Smith's friend Alex Gianturco wrote in a tribute posted on his website.

Gianturco wrote that Smith had been under fire before, while posted to Baghdad. When that occurred, he usually broke off his messaging. "We'd freak out and he'd come back OK after a bit," Gianturco wrote. But Tuesday night, after reporting "GUNFIRE," Smith "disconnected and never returned," he added.

A few hours earlier, Smith had posted, "assuming we don't die tonight. We saw one of our 'police' that guard the compound taking pictures," he recounted.

"I'm clearly in shock as I write this as everything is buzzing around my head funnily and I feel kind of dead inside," Gianturco wrote.

Analysis: In Libya, militias 'running the show'

Mystery shrouds anti-Islam film

Blog: Arrest, violence updates

CNN's Chris Lawrence, Elise Labott and Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
Shortly after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, a phone call was placed from the area.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
A testy exchange erupted between Sen. John McCain and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey during the latter's testimony about September's deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
January 24, 2013 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on Republican congressional critics of her department's handling of the deadly September terrorist attack in Libya.
January 24, 2013 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
The Pentagon released an hour-by-hour timeline of the September 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
January 29, 2013 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
Bilal Bettamer wants to save Benghazi from those he calls "extremely dangerous people." But his campaign against the criminal and extremist groups that plague the city has put his life at risk.
September 23, 2012 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Two former Navy SEALs who died last week in an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya died after rushing to help their colleagues.
September 19, 2012 -- Updated 0224 GMT (1024 HKT)
The former Pakistani Ambassador to the UK, Akbar Ahmed, explains why an anti-Islam film has triggered massive protests.
September 14, 2012 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
The fall of dictatorships does not guarantee the creation of free societies, says Ed Husain, author of "The Islamist."
September 25, 2012 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)
Protests have swept the world following the online release of a film that depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.
September 19, 2012 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
A satirical magazine pours further oil on the fiery debate between freedom of expression and offensive provocation.
Was the attack on the Libyan U.S. Consulate the result of a mob gone awry, a planned terror attack or a combination of the two?
The images of the American embassy burning in Benghazi might have conjured up memories of Tehran in 1979 but the analogy is false.
September 17, 2012 -- Updated 1457 GMT (2257 HKT)
Libyan authorities have made more arrests in connection with the attack on the U.S. consulate that left four Americans dead.
September 17, 2012 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
Three days before the deadly attack in Benghazi, a local security official says he warned U.S. diplomats about deteriorating security.
For the latest news on developments in the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic.
ADVERTISEMENT