What Happened To Sean Smith In Benghazi? His Tragic Death Shouldn’t Be Exploited

Patricia Smith, the mother of a Benghazi victim, was on the national radar after she gave a speech — largely about what she perceived as Hillary Clinton's failure to stop the 2012 attack — on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in July. On Monday, Patricia announced that she would attend the third and final presidential debate as Donald Trump's guest, which will inevitably put her loss and her son's death front of mind for many voters. So what happened to her son, Sean Smith, in Benghazi?

There are conflicting reports about what exactly happened on that tumultuous day, but here are a few things we know about Smith and what happened to him. Smith was working as an information management officer with the United States Foreign Services in Benghazi at the time of the attacks. Tragically, Smith, a 10-year Foreign Services veteran, was one of the four people killed in the attacks on the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. He was 34 years old at the time of his death.

The day of the attack, Smith — an active member of the EVE Online guild Goonswarm and a moderator for the site Something Awful — sent an eerie message to the director of his online gaming guild: "Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures." Unfortunately, Smith's observations were spot on.

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According to his friends in the gaming world, Smith was on the instant messaging service Jabber when the attacks occurred. As Wired reported, his friend Alex Gianturco wrote in an online obituary that at first Smith's reaction seemed normal. "In Baghdad the same kind of thing happened – incoming sirens, he’d vanish, we’d freak out and he’d come back ok after a bit. This time he said ‘FUCK’ and ‘GUNFIRE’ and then disconnected and never returned.”

Smith was awarded the posthumously awarded the U.S. Department of State’s Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service in May 2013. He left behind his wife, Heather, and two children, Samantha and Nathan. There is no doubt that Smith's death was a tragic and unnecessary one that the candidates should both treat with the respect and dignity that it deserves — as much as that is possible on the debate stage.