By Steve Fisher
BENGHAZI, LIBYA. On the night of September 11, 2012, terrorists attacked the U.S.
Consulate. Four years later, many people still
don’t know exactly what occurred on the
ground. Michael Bay’s film 13 Hours: The
Secret Soldiers of Benghazi tells the story
through the eyes of the people involved, with
some requisite dramatic liberties.
The consulate personnel, including
ambassador Chris Stevens, had little protection. Stationed less than a mile away, members of the Annex Security Team—six former
Navy SEALS, working as contractors assigned
to protect CIA workers nearby—set out to
save the consulate, even though their leader
told them it wasn’t an order.
“If you spend any time with these guys,
you immediately understand … of course
they were gonna go,” says Costco member
Mitchell Zuckoff, on whose book the film was
based. “There were Americans in peril; they
were hearing these calls over the walkie-talkie
saying, ‘If you don’t get here, we’re gonna die.’
If you talk to the guys today, you’ll under-
stand they never felt they had a choice. That’s
how they’re built.”
Unfortunately, they failed to get to the
consulate in time. Ambassador Stevens and
foreign service officer Sean Smith lost their
lives. The team returned to their compound,
where another siege would take the life of
their leader, Tyrone “Rone” Woods (played by
James Badge Dale). By the end of the 13
hours, four Americans and a countless number of insurgents had perished.
When the film opened, some complained
that it did not address the political aftermath
scrutinizing what the State Department did
or didn’t do to protect the compound.
Zuckoff explains that was not in the scope of
the film or the book. “It’s what happened on
the ground, on the rooftops, in the streets
when these events came to pass, and every-
body who was involved,” Zuckoff says.
“Michael Bay and I talked about this at great
length, [and] that became a bit of the mission
statement for all of us.”
He notes, “This is not a documentary.
Are there essential truths that are captured by
this movie? I think unquestionably the answer
is yes. Do you have to change certain things to
make it work? The book is called 13 Hours;
the movie is two hours long.”
While he wasn’t directly involved in the
making of the movie, Zuckoff had numerous
conversations with director Bay and screen-
writer Chuck Hogan, and all agreed that the
political aftermath of the events had no place
in the film.
“The idea [was] that we had heard so
much about Benghazi, but we didn’t know
what actually happened,” says Zuckoff, on
writing the book. “The story was lost in the
political machinations and the political accu-
sations, and so the idea that there were these
actual guys who fought that night, who were
there on the ground and had a story to tell
that was outside of politics, was too important
a story for me not to be intrigued by. … I
focused on what was happening very much in
those 13 hours.”
For everyone involved in the film, getting
the story of the camaraderie and sacrifice
right became the driving force. Where possi-
ble, the actors met with their real-life counter-
parts. “Jack Silva and John Krasinski spent a
weekend together,” shares Zuckoff. “Max
Martini, who plays Mark ‘Oz’ Geist—those
two developed a genuine deep friendship, as
did Dominic Fumusa and John Tiegen.
They’re pals to this day.
“This is first and foremost a story of tremendous self-sacrifice by an extraordinary
group of men who banded together when
nobody else was coming to help them,” adds
Zuckoff. “I hope that is an understanding [view-ers] gain from this, but I also hope they understand the way we use contractors today. The
cavalry is not coming over that hill. The people
on the ground in some of the most dangerous
places of this world for us are people who are
hired on a daily or a weekly or a monthly basis,
and that’s who these guys were.” C
An inspiring film about
a daring rescue attempt
The Secret Soldiers
arts & entertainment
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch a short interview with
author Mitchell Zuckoff and scenes from
the movie. (See page 12 for details.)
Left: John Krasinski stars in the riveting story of the battle in Benghazi.
Below: left to right, John Krasinski,
Pablo Schreiber and Max Martini
await the call to action.
The Costco Connection
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
(Item #1067911) is available in BD/DVD/DHD
in Costco warehouses on 6/7.