Member of Benghazi security team speaks at Republican women’s convention
Special to The Union
Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the six-member CIA security team that fought to defend the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, was the keynote speaker Saturday at the Northern Division of the California Federation of Republican Women biennial convention.
“God had a reason for us to be there,” he told a standing-room-only crowd at the Gold Miners Inn–Holiday Inn Express convention center.
The former Army Ranger from the 2nd Battalion, 75th Regiment, helped save more than 20 lives while fighting off radical Islamist terrorists for over 13 hours on Sept. 11, 2012. The security team’s story was the subject of the book “13 Hours” and a movie of the same name to be released in January.
As part of his presentation, Paronto showed the trailer for the movie. He said Hollywood didn’t invent the line his character utters on the rooftop during the terrorist siege: “As long as I’m doing the right thing, God will take care of me.”
Paronto explained, “I said it and I meant it.”
Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was born in Grass Valley, was killed in the attack. He was honored Saturday afternoon by convention delegates who visited Grass Valley’s Forrester Cemetery and placed American flags on his grave. Paronto made a private pilgrimage to Stevens’ grave.
“I want some alone time there,” he said.
Paronto’s visit was the highlight of the weekend for the more than 150 Republican women attending the convention and bringing with them nearly $75,000 in economic benefits to Grass Valley.
Accompanied by husbands, family members and other guests, delegates came prepared to mix convention business with pleasure. They finished serious work, such as electing new officers and board members, listening to informative speeches on current political topics, and reviewing financial reports. They also made time to enjoy evening cocktail receptions at the sold-out Gold Miners Inn, attend a Friday night reception at Lucchesi Winery’s tasting room, dine at downtown restaurants, and shop at local merchants.
The Northern Division stretches from Paso Robles to the Oregon border; 30 of its 47 clubs were represented at the convention. Delegates will take what they learned back to their local clubs, with the goal of informing voters, encouraging involvement in local, county, state and national government, and perhaps running for office themselves.
“The National Federation of Republican Women is the largest and oldest Republican women’s organization in the nation,” said Carla Embertson, Northern Division President. ”We are the educational arm of the party, as opposed to fundraising.”
The Nevada County Republican Women’s Federated, one of the hosts of the convention, were honored with the inaugural President’s Award of Excellence.
“They are truly an example of outstanding service to their community,” said Embertson, who presented the award to Kimberly Pruett, president of the local group.
“We do many service projects each year,” explained Pruett. “We donate 500 hours of volunteer service, plus money and gift baskets, to Women of Worth. We sponsor a Gold Country Meals on Wheels route each year that serves 15 seniors. We donated $4,000 to a wounded veteran to help him purchase an all-terrain wheel chair. On the patriotic holidays, we make hundreds of corsages and boutonnieres and deliver them to residential care homes.”
They also give scholarships to graduating high school seniors, raise funds for the Inter-Faith Food Ministry, and donate books and money to local schools.
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