The bodies of the arrived back in the U.S. Friday at a ceremony presided over by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Obama called the men, Glen A. Doherty of Encinitas and Tyrone Woods of Imperial Beach – who were killed with U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and information officer Sean Smith – “four patriots” who understood the risk of their diplomatic assignments yet took on the duty anyway.
“The knew the danger and they accepted it,” the president said. “They didn't simply embrace the American ideal, they lived it. They embodied it.”
Obama described Woods as a “consummate professional” and name-checked the Salty Frog, the Imperial Beach bar the father of three once owned.
The president noted that Doherty “never shied away from adventure” and fulfilled his calling to make a difference by becoming a SEAL.
Coffins for the four men were laid out before hearses in an Andrews Air Force Base hangar during the brief ceremony. At its conclusion, the hearses slowly left the hangar, as Obama and Clinton joined the family members who traveled to the Maryland base to claim their loved ones' remains.
Doherty, Woods, Stevens and Smith died Tuesday when a mob of extremists launched an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Lybia. Stevens and Smith were career diplomats, while the former SEALs provided security.
The initial violence has led to more attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts and those of America's allies, yet Clinton urged the country to remain committed to maintaining positive relationships with other nations.
“We owe it to those four men to continue the long hard work of diplomacy,” she said.
The ceremony was broadcast live by several cable outlets and webcast by other networks. NBC News is offering the full video of the ceremony online.
Memorial plans for the San Diego-area men have yet to be publicly released. Doherty's family has said he will be cremated and his resting place will be on the West Coast. Woods' family has not discussed their wishes.