One of the heroes of Benghazi comes to rescue of US church group stuck in Israel

An American church group trapped in the Holy Land found a helping hand to make their way home from a proven hero of the Battle of Benghazi.

(Video: Fox News)

Like other tourists traveling throughout Israel when Hamas infiltrated and engaged in the slaughter of more than 1,400 men, women and children on Oct. 7, the 84-member tourist group from West Fargo, North Dakota’s Holy Cross Catholic Church were left with “anxiety” after the U.S. Government had merely advised them to sit tight.

Retired U.S. Marine Mark Geist, known for co-authoring “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” and his actions helping to save more than 25 Americans on Sept. 11, 2012 in Libya, was contacted and, not one to sit idly by, stepped up to help in any way he could.

On Sunday, he joined “Fox & Friends Weekend” host Pete Hegseth and explained the role he played in getting Father Phil Ackerman’s flock home from Bethlehem with thanks to God.

“I gotta give it to the Lord, first and foremost. He put things together,” expressed Geist before going into further detail.

“A friend of mine, his sister was on that tour and had reached out to him who then, he reached out to me and asked if there was anything I could do to help and — I got a hold of some people that I know overseas in Israel, find out more information for them,” including, the retired Marine explained, that the State Department had told them to stay in place and await contact from the federal government.

Feeling uncomfortable with that plan and lacking up-to-date details on what was going on, Geist went on to state, “The biggest thing I was able to do was to help them have that information, understand what the situation was; Tel Aviv, the airport, whether it was shutting down or not — the possibility of that, and other options, which was get across the border into Jordan.”

As has been documented since the war in Israel began, the State Department had initially stood by its policy to merely transport stranded Americans to the closest available country, upon which they would be required to make their own way home and owe the federal government for the limited aid provided.

Such callous treatment of citizens was outdone by charity groups and others like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) who took their own actions to see to it that those stuck abroad were ferried safely all the way back to the states.

“And you know, they made the decision, they did what they needed to do after they got the information,” Geist continued about how the church group had opted for the trek to Jordan away from the heavily Muslim-populated city of Bethlehem. “And luckily, we were able to get them out, and they got across the border into Jordan on Tuesday after the war had started, and now they’re all home safe back in North Dakota.”

In his own account of what happened, Father Ackerman spoke with KFYR Tuesday and explained, “There was anxiety, and underneath all that, it was a sense of, ‘What’s going to happen to us?’ But things changed when we were heading towards Jordan and crossing the border.”

Shuttling his entire tour group back to the United States took multiple flights and he himself had waited for the last trip and he noted while those at home prayed for their safety, “I kind of identified with Jesus and Mary in flight, leaving Israel to protect their child. So, it’s kind of like identifying with what they went through. And all of us felt this was an experience of faith.”

Once a part of the mission, Geist further explained to Hegseth that he attempted to do more, “I found out about two more and reached out to try to get a hold of them, never got any response back. I think things by that time had moved forward enough where people were probably making better decisions and getting better information. But you know it was just — like I said, I’ve gotta give it to the Lord for just putting me in that spot, being able to make a difference in somebody’s life.”

In addition to the rescue efforts, the retired Marine commented on the threat presented to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as they aim to send ground forces into Gaza and he said, “Any time the enemy knows that you’re coming and where you’re coming from, they’re able to set up and channelize your movement as much as they can through [improvised explosive devices], through what we really saw in Iraq was the EFPs, which is an explosive penetrator, and they can make those left and right. They learned how to make those in Iraq from Iran, and the Iranian Republican Guard, and I’m sure that’s what they’ve done here as well. They’re going to have a tough fight on their hands.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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