Disabled Vietnam veteran Ray Smith of Gulfport said he was getting acquainted with his long-estranged son when he lost him forever.
How he learned of the loss was as cruel.
"I was watching television...seen a plane pull up, seen four caskets coming off the plane, flag-draped," he recalled Monday. "And then they started showing four pictures up there in the corner of the television and by God, there's my son and then they mentioned they were killed in Benghazi."
State Department information management officer Sean Smith was one of those killed along with the U.S. ambassdor to Libya in a September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya.
His father had no idea his son was in Libya, but that was not unusual.
"We were making contact, we were getting our relationship back together, starting to write letters back and forth but his work, he can't talk too much about where he is," the elder Smith explained. Since he divorced Sean's mother long ago, she was officially notified by U.S. officials as the next of kin.
The former Marine was emotionally distraught after the loss and reached out to Congressman Bill Young of Largo. Rep. Young said he is trying to get some answers for his constituent.
"The primary one is, why did his son die pleading for reinforcements and help and having them denied," Young said. "That's his main question and we're doing our best, briefing after briefing, hearing after hearing -- we're still not getting answers."
Both men spoke at a small dedication ceremony at Bay Pines VA Hospital arranged by the Congressman's office. A photograph of Sean Smith now hangs in a room used to counsel families of wounded warriors, along with an explanation of his life and death that Young read into the Congressional Record November 30th.
His father was burned over most of his body in the Vietnam war and visits Bay Pines
"...At least three or four times a month, I'm here," Smith said, adding "I will visit here every time I come and say a prayer."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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