LETTER: State Department approval likely would have made a difference in Benghazi

I saw one good man die while circling overhead in Vietnam and awaiting approval from the U.S. government.

Benghazi deaths

I flew dozens of night combat missions over Vietnam in the extraordinarily accurate, night-sensing, side-firing AC-130 Gunship.

I particularly remember a one-night mission wherein over 200 bad guys attacked a compound manned by friendly troops.

We in our gunship were nearby and quickly laid 40 mm cannon fire on the bad guys’ tracer-delineated firing line.

Enemy firing on the compound instantaneously ceased and never returned.

We all were lucky — the requisite, in-country State Department coordination had already been obtained.

Stated differently, we didn’t have to await Washington’s approval. (I once had a good guy die on me because, after two hours of him circling overhead, State Department approval didn’t come through, and the bad guys got him.)

In the movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” Benghazi survivors state they pleaded for AC-130 support overhead so as to save their lives — a request that went unanswered.

What difference did it make?

Approval from America’s State Department (then led by Hillary Clinton) would have likely mirrored our success decades earlier in Vietnam and saved those four heroes.

Their blood lies not only on the attackers but also upon those in the State Department.

The key question remaining is why State Department approval was withheld. It did make a difference.

Gerald J. Stiles,