One hour after the meeting with Akin, at about 9:35 PM on the night of September 11 2012, the Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by 20 – 100 heavily armed terrorists with rocket propelled grenades and machine guns. Ambassador Stevens, and four of his personnel moved to the compound "safe haven". The attackers poured diesel fuel in and around the building and set it on fire. Information Management Officer, Sean Smith, was killed during this period.
Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was at the CIA Annex about a mile from the U.S. Diplomatic Mission at 9:35 PM, when the terrorists attacked. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the Mission and help out. They were told to "stand down." Soon after, they were again told to "stand down."
Woods and at least two others ignored the orders to stand down and rushed to the Mission which, at that point, was on fire. They were joined there by former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty. They were shot at and returned fire. They fought their way in and managed to evacuate those who remained at the consulate, and the body of Sean Smith. They could not find the ambassador and decided to return to the annex with the survivors and Smith's body. While en route back to the annex, the group's armored vehicle was hit by AK-47 rifle fire and hand grenades. The vehicle was just able to make it back with two flat tires.
After the Mission was burned and all personnel were evacuated, captured, or dead; the terrorists then attacked the Annex. CIA operators at the Annex called again for military support and help. The request was denied. One member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. He had a designation laser pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex, and the operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were firing from. They apparently thought that the two Predator drones overhead could use their Hellfire missiles on the mortar location.
They repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by Special Ops forces to provide support to teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The Gunship was never even allowed to take off.
The team inside the annex captured three of the attackers, but were then forced to hand them over to the Libyans the next day. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three attackers.
The fighting at the CIA annex went on for four more hours -- enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. A Special Ops team that specializes in counter-terrorism rescues was also on hand at Sigonella. They could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were told to “wait.”
After waiting in vain for backup, and fighting continuously for almost six hours, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed by blasts and shrapnel from mortar rounds that hit the compound at about 4 AM. One or both may not have died instantaneously and may have kept on fighting, since there were bloody hand prints on their rooftop machine gun.