By David A. Patten
A campaign is gaining momentum in Congress to honor Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, the two Navy Seals who died defending the compound in Benghazi, by granting them the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian award bestowed by the U.S. Congress.
Pro-military veteran activist Debbie Lee spent the one-year anniversary of the deadly attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi meeting with members of Congress to seek their support for the awards. Lee is founder of America’s Mighty Warriors, an activist group she founded in honor of her son, Marc Alan Lee, the first Navy Seal to be killed in Iraq. The group actively supports veterans and their families.
Lee tells Newsmax that she’s urging Congress to honor Doherty and Woods because of her unique empathy for the profound sacrifice that the two men and their families made on behalf of their country.
“I think the least we can do to honor them is award them the Congressional Gold Medal,” Lee says. “The statement that this makes to their families is that we will never forget the sacrifice that they made.
Tyrone Snowden Woods was a Navy Seal who had served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq before he joined the State Department Diplomatic Security unit. Glen Doherty, a friend of Woods, also was a former Navy Seal. He had seen extensive action in the Middle East before retiring to become a private contractor for the State Department.
On Sept. 11, 2012, the two men took to the rooftop of the Benghazi compound to fight off the jihadi rebels swarming into the facility. The battle in Benghazi spanned over 7-and-a-half hours, and has become the focus of congressional hearings.
Woods and Doherty sustained fatal mortar and gunfire wounds. Two others also died in the attack: U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and information-management officer Sean Smith. Stevens became the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in a hostile military action since 1979.
The online petition to honor Woods and Doherty states: “Without regard for their personal safety, Woods and Doherty knowingly placed themselves in grave danger in order to bring aid to those under attack.”
Lee has posted a link to the petition on AmericasMightyWarriors.org, urging members of Congress to grant them the medal. Newsmax caught up with her right after she met with Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
Hunter has introduced HR 1186, a bill to posthumously grant the medals to the two warriors in recognition of their extraordinary courage in the face of enemy fire. So far, over 40 members of both parties have announced their bipartisan support for bestowing the medals.
Ordinarily, the Congressional Gold Medal is granted many years after an extraordinary achievement. But Lee says Woods and Doherty should be recognized as soon as possible for their sacrifice.
Woods actually served as one of her son’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) instructors, a fact she only recently learned.
“There’s a very personal connection,” she says. “I didn’t know that before Ty died, but he spoke of Marc quite often, of the sacrifice that he made and the warrior that he was.
“So I feel like this is an honor to be able to do this for these two guys, and to let them know we don’t lightly take what they did that day, that we recognize the amazing sacrifice they made, and that we want to remember them and honor them with this Congressional Gold Medal.”
A parallel bill to grant the medals to the two Seals is expected to soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate. But Lee knows she could face an uphill battle, but says her campaign “stands a good chance” thanks to its bipartisan support.
Previous recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include: Gen. George Washington, Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, Thomas Edison, Howard Hughes, Irving Berlin, Jesse Owens, Sir Winston Churchill, the crew of Apollo 11, Rev. Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King.
By committee rules, legislation to bestow the medals won’t even be considered until at least two-thirds of the members of both the House and the Senate agree to co-sponsor the bill.
“I’m hoping that this will be successful,” says Lee. “I’m not giving up until it is.”
Lee tells Newsmax it is now her life’s work to speak up on behalf of those who no longer can.
“It is an honor to be able to be that voice,” Lee says. “Glenn and Ty don’t have that voice any longer. They gave that up with their final, last breath.”
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