On Sept. 11, 2012 — 11 years after al-Qaida launched an attack against the U.S. — the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya was attacked.
In the ensuing gunfight, four Americans died — including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Lost among the blame game and politicking that played out over the Internet and cable news was the fact that these men came from families. They had lives. They were somebody’s sons.
Charles Woods lost his son, Ty, on Sept. 11, 2012.
Invited to the State of the Union as the guest of Oklahoma Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Woods is a father seeking closure and the truth about what happened to his son.
His son, Ty, was a former Navy SEAL and a private security contractor in Benghazi. He had been described by his compatriots as an “Alpha SEAL” — the SEAL other SEALs sought to emulate — and in a wood-paneled room, in the heart of the nation’s capitol on the day after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, his soft-spoken father glowed with pride as he spoke about him.
Recounting the upbringing that Ty had, Woods explained: ”He was just an ordinary guy, but in his life nothing was done halfway. … He was a very independent young man. We would give him a .22 or a BB gun and he’d be gone all day. … He was really made to be a Navy SEAL.”
With a smile, Woods remembered what Ty told him when he signed up for the Navy: “He went in to the Navy. In his words, ‘Not to scrape barnacles off the bottom of a ship, but to be a Navy SEAL.’”
For a man who has suffered such a loss, Woods is magnanimous. The burden of what he has been through is evident but his deep Christian faith shines through. Setting the clear goal for Washington’s success on a Benghazi investigation, Woods simply asks for the truth to come out. He only wants to know what happened to his son and he sees it as his duty, his last act as a father, to tell the world about his son, how proud he was of him for the life he led, the career he undertook and the ultimate sacrifice that he made.
“Ty came from a normal American family,” Woods said. “We had our ups and our downs, but what was reflected by his life was that he was an American hero, and I’m sure that his life would be an inspiration to others to know that you can come from just an ordinary American family and be an American hero, no matter what occupation you choose. I hope that will be one of the good things that results from Ty’s serving his country.”
In an amazing display of his deep faith for someone who has suffered such a tragic loss, Charles is adamant that he bears no grudge.
“Quite frankly, I have no hard feelings,” Woods said. ”I say ‘enemies’ — I shouldn’t even. I use that word loosely. You know, everyone both those in the United States and in Libya as well that are responsible for my son’s death — they are not my enemies. I would love to see all of them in Heaven.”
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