Kris "Tanto" Paronto
From a young age, Kris “Tanto” Paronto has been driven to succeed. His close-knit family includes his mother, a teacher, and father, a former collegiate football coach. His years alongside his father on the field proved to be incredibly formative in honing his athletic prowess and commitment to academic achievement. Education is highly prized in the Paronto family. After graduating high school in Grand Junction, Colorado, he went on to become a Junior All-American football player at Dixie College (now Dixie State University) in St. George, Utah. Before gaining his Bachelor’s Degree from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, he obtained his associate’s degree.
As Kris’s successes on the field began to fade, the call of an Army recruiter in the student Union answered his need for continuing to be a team player. Paronto enlisted and spent four years as a U.S. Army Ranger, 2/75 Ranger Bn., and then an additional four years in the U.S. Army National Guard as a commissioned officer until 2003. That same year, he left the military and took up contracting, and over the next ten years, his work took him across the world, including Central and South America, the Middle East, and Africa. During this period, he also earned a Master’s in Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska Omaha.
Paronto is perhaps most known for his valiant efforts in Benghazi on September 11, 2002, the events memorialized by Michael Bay’s movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The film is inspired by the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi, which Paronto co-wrote with American journalism professor Mitchell Zuckoff and other members of the Benghazi security team. After returning home, Paronto continues to be very active in the public eye and is now a well-respected author, motivational speaker, and businessman. This event has given Paronto the platform to speak on Veteran issues on an international scale, and today he connects with individuals to share his experiences in a variety of ways.
His most recent ventures include the publication of two additional books; U.S.A. Today’s best-seller The Ranger Way: Living the Code On and Off the Battlefield in 2017, and The Patriot's Creed in 2019. Both are self-help books and are inspiring accounts of Paronto’s experiences. He is the owner and lead instructor of Battleline Tactical, which promotes tactical weapons education and training. In addition to his written publications, Paronto also is a co-host of the Battleline Podcast with Ian Scotto, which focuses on Veteran-related issues and content. When not with his wife and three children, Paronto focuses on charitable initiatives. In 2016 founded the 14th Hour Foundation, which focuses on providing services and support to first responders and military veterans.
Ben Morgan is a former member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Ranger Battalion, and a former U.S. Army infantry officer. Morgan’s family boasts a long and proud history of honorable military service stretching back to the Revolutionary War. Both his parents served in Vietnam, his grandfather served in WWII, and his paternal uncle was an active U.S. Army Ranger at the time of his high school graduation.
While earning his B.A. in History from Colorado State University (Go Rams!), Morgan served in the Army 19th Special Forces Group and then spent time in the Middle East working as a Close Quarters Battle Instructor, teaching Iraqi and coalition forces. From there, Morgan applied his military background and experience and to private contracting work, which first took him to places across the globe. This included Africa as part of the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance Program (ACOTA), training battalion-level staff officers to prepare for peace and support operations in Darfur. Following this experience, he accepted work for the U.S. State Department’s High Threat Protection program in Baghdad, Iraq, for contractor Triple Canopy. During this work, Morgan received career-ending back and nerve injuries as the result of a mortar attack.
After returning to the United States, Morgan settled down as a stay-at-home husband and father to a set of young twins, a boy, and a girl. In addition to his physical scars, his experiences left Morgan with deep emotional wounds as well, and he fell into a deep depression during his recovery. Due in no small part to the love and support of his Wife along with his Children and friend, today, Morgan is a lead instructor at Battleline Tactical, and his inspiring story is included in Paronto’s most recent book, The Patriot’s Creed. He hopes his experience continues to give strength to and inspire others who have faced similar challenges and looks forward to the next chapter with TANTO Vodka.