ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University alumnus and inspiration for the movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” Kris Paronto will return to his alma mater for a special event.
Paronto, affectionately known in security contracting circles as “Tanto,” is being portrayed in the film for his role in responding to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11, 2012. As one of six members of the CIA annex security team who battled for 13 hours, Paronto helped repel the attackers and save more than 20 lives.
Paronto will be in St. George at noon, Jan. 25, in the ballroom of the Gardner Student Center on the DSU campus to share his experience of protecting American lives. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend.
“We are so thankful to Kris for putting his life on the line for our country and are so proud of him for representing Dixie State University so well,” Kalynn Larson, director of alumni at DSU, said. “Kris truly embodies the Dixie Spirit and we are excited to welcome him home.”
Based on the book, “13 Hours in Benghazi: A Firsthand Account of What Really Happened,” by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff, the film presents first-hand, never-before-told details of the attack on Benghazi, when terrorists attacked the U.S. State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex. The film recounts the extraordinary acts of courage and heroism these men performed, going beyond the call of duty to avert tragedy on a much larger scale.
Paronto is a former Army Ranger from the 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment and private security contractor who has deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. He also worked with the U.S. government’s Global Response Staff conducting low-profile security in high-threat environments throughout the world.
A native of Alamosa, Colorado, Paronto played football and studied physical education before earning an associate degree from Dixie College in 1992. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and a master’s from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
He served four years in the Army and an additional four years in the Army National Guard, reaching the rank of sergeant before becoming a commissioned officer in 2003. He started contracting for Blackwater Security Consulting in 2003 and continued to deploy on various security contracts to include the Global Response Staff until 2013.
“Kris truly is an American hero and you won’t want to miss his visit to the Dixie State University campus and his presentation to the community,” Larson said. “Please join us in welcoming this Dixie alumnus back to St. George.”
- What: DSU alumnus Kris Paronto speaks
- When: Monday, Jan. 25, noon
- Where: Ballroom, Gardner Student Center, DSU campus, 225 S. 700 East, St. George
- Cost: Free
Email: [email protected]