Former Iranian hostage from Wisconsin reacts to Libya attack - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Former Iranian hostage from Wisconsin reacts to Libya attack

The attack in Libya is bringing back strong memories for one central Wisconsin man. 33 years ago, Kevin Hermening was held hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Iran for 444 days. It's an experience that reminds him of the current violence in the Middle East.

In 1979 Kevin Hermening was a marine stationed in Iran. He was on guard when protesters seized control of the U.S. Embassy.

"It was a very high level combination of fear and as well as a big adrenaline rush," said Hermening.

At age 20 Hermening was the youngest of the 52 Americans held hostage.

"It was very frightening," said Hermening. "We were blindfolded. We were handcuffed. There was a series Russian roulette."

The Americans were eventually released in 1981, after more than 400 days of imprisonment.

Hermening says the current unrest in the Middle East is similar to what he experienced.

On September 11 an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. When Hermening found out about the attack, he says his thoughts were with the victim's families.

"They died doing what they loved to do. And that was trying to bring about a diplomatic solution to a very troubled part of the world."

Hermening says security needs to be a top priority to protect American lives overseas.

"Let's give our marines the proper ammunition," said Hermening. "Let's build the properties, the buildings, in such a way that we can give them better security than what Ambassador Stevens had in Benghazi."

And he says even though the violence is taking place on the other side of the world, an impact can be felt here.

"There are people right here in town who lost loved ones in the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Hermening returned to the Middle East last summer. It was the first time since he was held hostage more than 30 years ago.


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