WASHINGTON — Senators introduced a bill this week to grant Congress’s highest civilian honor to a native of Massachusetts and a second security contractor from Oregon who were among those slain in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on two US installations in Libya.
Winchester native Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone Woods of Portland, Ore., would be given the Congressional Gold Medal under legislation filed by Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, as well as New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and Oregon’s senators.
Doherty and Woods were former Navy SEALs who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. After retiring from the Navy, they worked as contractors at the State Department, protecting American diplomats.
They died in Libya after armed attackers struck the main consulate building in Benghazi and a nearby CIA annex. Four people were killed, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens, and 10 were injured.
Because they were contractors, not military personnel, at the time of the attack, neither Doherty nor Woods were eligible for military honors. The Congressional Gold Medal — a tradition adopted during the American Revolution — has served as as Congress’ highest distinction for civilians and has been awarded to George Washington, Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, Walt Disney, and the men and women who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Katie Quigley, Doherty’s younger sister, said in an interview that consideration of the measure in Congress will help her family ”protect his legacy and make sure what he died for was not in vain.”
She said her brother would have appreciated the bipartisan sponsorship of the medal, particularly since the Benghazi attacks continue to be the source of debate in Washington.
“The sad thing about what happened in Benghazi is how political everything got,” Quigley said. “That’s not Glen and that’s not who these men are.’’
Quigley added that she is hopeful investigations will continue into what happened and the attackers will be held accountable.
“We still as a family really hope that the people responsible for the attack will be found and brought to justice,’’ she said. ”It takes time and we’re willing to be patient.’’
A similar bill was introduced in the House in March, co-sponsored by Massachusetts representatives.
“It would be a great honor if it went through,” Quigley said. “They ran to the sound of gunfire and fought all night. That’s a hero to me.’’Christopher Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.