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Actions during Benghazi consulate attack saved lives

Senior Chief Petty Officer Tyrone Snowden Woods Sr., a U.S. Navy SEAL (ret.), was 41 when he died Sept. 12 after defending the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

His actions that night saved the lives of 30 embassy staff during what has since been described as a terrorist attack on the compound.

The 1989 graduate of Oregon City High School joined his SEAL teammate Glen Doherty to step into the breach to protect the compound as it was attacked by Al Qaeda of Libya insurgents.

His sacrifice will be honored in November during the seventh annual Veterans Day Assembly at Oregon City High School. A special tribute to Woods and his service to the country will be part of the assembly program.

During the night of the attack, Woods and Doherty left their secure annex to make their way to the mission compound, where they gathered the diplomatic staff and escorted them to a “safe” house. It was during a second, more violent attack of mortar fire that the two men perished.

At the Dignified Transfer of Remains ceremony, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton described Woods as having “...the hands of a healer as well as the arm of a warrior.”

In his remarks, President Barack Obama depicted him as “the quiet, consummate professional.”

Woods was buried in San Diego on Sept. 20 in a private ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, on which and in which he spent many hours. It is there that President Obama described Woods as being “home.”

‘Fearless child’

Woods was born on Jan. 15, 1971, in Portland, and spent his childhood years in Long Creek, Ore., Anacortes, Wash., and Oregon City.

Growing up, he was an inquisitive, busy, fearless child. He learned to hunt while living on a ranch in Eastern Oregon. With his .22 in hand, no ground squirrel was ever safe. By the time he was 13 and living in Anacortes, he had earned an Oregon hunter’s safety card and was also a certified PADI diver, all early indications of what was to come later in life.

During his grade school years, Woods participated in wrestling, which became a means for channeling his grit, determination and competitiveness.

In 1989, during his senior year at Oregon City High School, he placed second in district and fifth in state in the 135-pound weight class. He also set a school record that year for career escapes, 51, and most falls in a season, 18.

Always rooting him on were his loving grandparents, Eddie and Flora Mae Croft; his mother, Cheryl, and his uncle Ed, who encouraged his nephew’s athletic pursuits.

Military service

In 1990, he joined the U.S. Navy and set a personal goal to become a SEAL. During his training, he went through “hell week” twice and then received his trident in October 1991.

At various stages in his career, he was the medical corpsman and paramedic on SEAL teams one, three and five, and served multiple tours of duty in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He also spent two years with the Navy’s exhibition parachute team, the Leapfrogs.

In 2010, Woods retired from the Navy, concluding 20 years of honorable service to his country, together with being a decorated serviceman. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star with Combat V, National Defense Service Award and expert pistol and rifle medals, among other awards.

In addition to being a SEAL, he was also a board certified registered nurse in California, and had worked at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego as well as on staff at his wife’s La Jolla dental practice. For the past two years, he worked as a personal service contractor protecting American diplomatic personnel in posts ranging from Central America to the Middle East.

Woods was more than a SEAL. He was also an avid runner, surfer and car enthusiast. He was especially fond of fast cars and motorcycles and owned several Ford Cobra Mustangs that he meticulously maintained. His automotive skills were learned as a teenager at the side of his grandfather, Eddie Croft, who taught him how to maintain and repair his cars. Because Woods was extremely neat, his cars were always in immaculate condition, with the engines so clean you could eat off them.

Friends and family

Friends were also an important part of his life, and he kept in contact with them whether they lived in the San Diego area or in Oregon. Many of his friends have written tributes to him on Facebook at “Tyrone S. Woods Memorial, U.S. Navy SEAL Memorial Page,” describing him as energetic, smiling, confidant, loyal, funny and always able to make others laugh.

His fearlessness and adventurous spirit created memorable times with his high school and military friends who said that he always “had their backs.”

Glenn Stone, a long-time buddy from basic training, remembered Woods with words from Chief Tecumseh, “Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. ... Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

Woods was the father of three sons, Tyrone Jr., Hunter and Kai. Besides his children and wife, Dorothy, he is survived by his mother, Cheryl; his father, Charles, his sister, Tiffany; his uncle, Ed; several great-uncles and aunts; and numerous cousins.

Donations in Woods’ name may be made to the Oregon City High School wrestling program, in care of coach Roger Rolen, the Navy SEAL Foundation at, or to a charity of choice.


An earlier version of this online story misstated his date of death. He did not die from his injuries until the day after the embassy attack. We regret the error.

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