Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is filled with bloody battles but the film also features modern day miracles that will impact faith-based audiences, according to the Christian soldiers whose true stories inspired the film.
Four years ago, former Marines Mark “Oz” Geist, John “Tig” Tiegen and former Army Ranger Kris “Tanto” Paranto were three of the six men assigned to work as security contractors in Benghazi, Libya. On Sept. 11, 2012, staff at the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA Annex were under siege by terrorists, and when they called U.S. government officials for help those requests were denied by a CIA base chief named “Bob” who ordered the contractors to “stand down,” impeding any rescue attempt.
During one “13 Hours” scene Pablo Schreiber, who plays Tanto in the film, says he believes God will take care of him in the midst of the attack. The man who inspired the character says he is grateful that he could shed light on God in a blockbuster film directed by Bay.
“God is not a PC subject nowadays. With Michael getting portions of that in the movie where Pablo is saying: ‘As long as I’m going right with God, He’ll take care of me. ‘I said that,” said Paranto (Tanto) during a press junket attended by The Christian Post. “Him [Bay] putting it into a movie this size, even that little bit that makes me really happy. I’ve had so many people come to me and say, ‘thank you for putting God in the movie.’ Even that little bit, even that one word.”
The film is based on a Chuck Hogan screenplay developed from the 2014 Mitchell Zuckoff book, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, which relays the accounts of CIA contractors who risked their lives to save 32 Americans working at the State Deptment’s Special Mission Compound, and the deaths of U.S. Amb. Christopher Stevens, Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, and State Dept. computer expert Sean Smith.
With mortars, machine guns and rockets hitting striking the consulate, Tanto insists the men’s survival was nothing short of miraculous. He spoke about feeling God protecting him before an anonymous man he refers to as a “little Libyan angel” seemingly appeared out of nowhere and assisted him in firing back at his attackers.
“That night when I was shooting, the scene where we got attacked at the consulate, I was out in the open. I’m shooting back and they’re ‘snap snap’ going. Ain’t nothing touching me, I could feel it,” Tanto recalled. “You could just feel a warm forcefield it’s really a cocoon around you like “I’m good. nobody’s going to hit me.”
Even though Tanto blew out his eardrum in the fight and Oz suffered a severe injury to his arm that required more than 12 surgeries, the latter also believes God is the only reason the three men are alive to tell their story. According to Oz, God’s angels wrapped their wings around the soldier on the tragic night that moviegoers will witness for themselves.
“There were three 80 mm mortars and they have a kill radius of 21 feet. So that basically means anything within 21 feet has like a 99 percent chance of getting killed,” Oz said. “I was within 15 feet of three of them and I lived. I know that His presence was there with me and it’s what got me through.”
The scenario is even hard to believe for other soldiers who traveled to the area where the six men held off dozens of attackers who were equipped with more advanced weaponry.
“Some of the guys that went back down to Benghazi and took pictures to see the corner [we] were fighting out of, they looked at me in the face and asked: ‘How are you still alive?'” Tig revealed. “There were bullet holes all over the thing, we had these huge spotlights and we’re pretty much fighting right next to it and that thing was pretty much obliterated.”
Oz added, “Everything [got] hit but where we were at.”
It was not in the job description of the six security contractors to fight against the terrorists who attacked the U.S. compound in Benghazi. They were supposed to act as last result support, not front line defense.
Even though risking their lives resulted in the deaths of two of their friends and fellow contractors, Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, Tanto believes God chose that group to defend the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
“I know God had us all there for a reason that night. We were all supposed to go home the week prior,” Tanto revealed. “But wouldn’t have had that team there that we had that night. Because of the age, seniority and experience, we actually worked well together. I think if that team wouldn’t have been there as it was, there would have been a lot more casualties.”
Although Tanto is sad that “Ty” and Glen lost their lives in the battle, he was happy they fought beside him.
“It’s sad Ty had to give his life by doing that but I’m glad he was there and he’s the hero. Him and Glen both,” he said.
Bay’s film doesn’t contain many overt faith based themes, but it does feature a real life battle fought by Christian men who are not afraid to publicly glorify God once the credits stop rolling.
“We had so many times we could have quit and because of our faith in God and our faith in each other, we didn’t,” Tanto said, adding that Christian audiences will walk away from the film feeling inspired.
“So that’s what I hope that people get, especially when I speak to faith based groups. Have faith in God that He will help you overcome any obstacle. Have faith that you’re in a situation that whether it’s good or bad, you’re there for a reason and keep your faith in Him.”
“13 Hours: Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi” can been see in theaters across the U.S.