U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens had been involved with Libya since 2007, when he was sent there as deputy chief of the U.S. mission until 2009.
During the 2011 uprising against Colonel Gaddafi he became the chief liaison between the U.S. and the Transitional National Council (TNC), acting as a vital go-between for the rebels.
According to the BBC, California-born Stevens -- a fluent French and Arabic speaker - was an international trade lawyer before joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1991.
Last year, Stevens wrote about his work in Libya, and the "non-lethal military assistance" he offered to the TNC, in an article for the State Department's in-house publication "State".
"It was difficult to get there at the time. There weren't any flights. So we came in by a Greek cargo ship and unloaded our gear and our cars and set up our office there," Chris Stevens recounted in the article.
"My mandate was to go out and meet as many members of the leadership as I could in the Transitional National Council."
"I've gone around with our small team and tried to get to know other people in the society there."
Stevens said the Libyans were genuinely grateful to the United States for supporting their aspirations for freedom, as demonstrated by the greeting the team received.
The Libyans had hoisted British, French, Qatari and American flags at Freedom Square, the vast open area in front of the Benghazi courthouse. But the group's members needed more than a warm welcome; they needed a place to bed down for the night.
In expeditionary diplomacy, they key is to make do with what you have, so the mission's first night was spent aboard ship while Diplomatic Security.
They soon settled into a formerly government-owned hotel where other foreign missions and international journalists were lodged, but had to move when a car bomb exploded in the hotel parking lot.
Diplomatic advances were accomplished against a background of quiet success in overcoming some extraordinary operational
barriers. Normal management and communications were rendered especially difficult for the U.S. team because Qadhafi loyalists had sabotaged the country's telephone and Internet systems, limiting contact both among Libyans and between Libya and the rest of the world.
"The immediate concern when we got there was that Qadhafi's forces had almost infiltrated and taken over Benghazi, but were pushed out by NATO," Stevens said.