WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston), alongside Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-San Diego), Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), and Congressman Brian Mast (R-Palm City), introduced legislation to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Glen A. Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Sean Smith in recognition of their contributions to our nation. These four Americans honorably served the United States and were killed during the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress to express public gratitude for distinguished patriotism and heroism.
“Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Sean Smith served our nation with bravery and distinction. We owe it to their families to honor their legacy, courage, and selfless sacrifice with the Congressional Gold Medal. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to honor true American heroes,” said Congressman Lynch.
“These four Americans worked daily to advance the ideals our nation was founded on and lost their lives in the service of our country during the attack on our diplomatic mission in Libya. Our bipartisan legislation recognizes their bravery and sacrifice with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress has to bestow,” said Congressman Mast.
Ambassador Stevens, a native of Grass Valley, California, served in the United States Foreign Service for 21 years as a leading American diplomat renowned for his commitment to advancing democracy and partnership with nations around the world. Mr. Doherty, a native of Winchester, Massachusetts, and Mr. Woods, a native of Portland, Oregon, were security contractors who previously served as combat-decorated Navy SEALS for a combined 32 years protecting American diplomats, their fellow servicemen and women, as well as the American people. Mr. Smith, a native of San Diego, California, served in the United States Air Force for six years and was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal prior to joining the State Department with posts in Baghdad, Iraq, Brussels, Belgium, and The Hague.
In particular, H.R. 2315 authorizes the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate to make appropriate arrangements for the posthumous award, on behalf of the Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design in commemoration of Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, J. Christopher Stevens, and Sean Smith in recognition of their contributions to the Nation. The full text of the legislation is available here.
Under the rules of the House Republican Conference, a recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal, if deceased, may only receive the honor if they have been deceased for not less than five years or more than 25 years. Congressman Lynch and his colleagues will strongly advocate for this legislation to pass Congress before September of 2017 in order to ensure these heroes are properly honored in a timely manner.
Congressman Lynch previously advocated for the approval of death benefits for Mr. Doherty’s family as well as families in similar situations. Congressman Lynch first introduced H.R. 312, the Glen Anthony Doherty Overseas Security Personnel Fairness Act, in November of 2014. The legislation sought to remove a significant penalty in federal law that prohibited the families of overseas contractors who are killed in the line of duty from receiving full death benefits if the deceased employee is unmarried with no children or other dependents. The families of overseas federal contractors, including the family of Mr. Doherty, faced significant difficulty in receiving death benefits under federally-required insurance policies when their loved one is killed on the job, but is single with no dependents. In April of 2016, the Central Intelligence Agency announced the approval of enhanced death benefits for the families of eligible C.I.A. employees and contractors who have been killed in the line of duty overseas since 1983, including the family of Mr. Doherty.
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