View Full Version : President shared pain of Marine community

06-08-04, 07:35 AM
President shared pain of Marine community
June 08,2004

The day President Reagan visited Camp Lejeune to attend a memorial service for those killed in the Beirut bombing dawned stormy and dismal.

It never got better on that Nov. 4, 1983, less than two weeks after 241 servicemen, most from Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station, were killed when a military outpost was bombed by terrorists in Beirut.

There was no sun. No blue sky. No rainbow. No promise that things would soon be better. Just a damp funk that enshrouded the entire community.

The weather perfectly matched the attitude of those who attended the service.

"As we approached the traffic circle in the dark, the mood was set for the day with the simple words, 'In Memoriam' on the announcement sign across from base headquarters," said Bonnie Throckmorton, a longtime Jacksonville resident and regular contributor to the Daily News.

She vividly recalled the heavy downpour as Camp Lejeune Marines awaited the arrival of their commander-in-chief.

"I remember watching the Marine uniforms turn from green to black as the water soaked in. The flags from all the base units formed the backdrop against the water. As they were whipping in the wind and rain, three helicopters came out of the darkness, flying just above the ground. We knew President Reagan had arrived," Throckmorton said.

From where the press sat during the service, many rows back from the raincoat-clad president, the world appeared as a sea of umbrellas. They mushroomed over the heads of guests, victims and the reporters who tried to take notes during the short, but moving, memorial service.

Reagan came to honor the Camp Lejeune Marines and sailors killed on Oct. 23, an event that sent Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune into a tailspin.

In the hours and days that followed the bombing, Marines prepared to deploy to Beirut to assist in rescue efforts and provide additional security. Jacksonville would be besieged with media representatives. Reporters from the networks and national newspapers and magazines converged on the town, along with the international press corps. Gen. Al Gray, who commanded the Second Marine Division, to which the Beirut contingent was attached, held regular press briefings.

Jacksonville residents discovered the extent of their loss as confirmed casualty numbers climbed. So many of the men who perished were friends, neighbors and integral parts of the community. Jacksonville, like the rest of the nation, looked to its president for both leadership and inspiration.

Reagan was popular in this conservative military town. Perceived as both pro-military and an able leader, most in Jacksonville felt that he was someone to take seriously in the world arena, a man who didn't bluff or back down from a fight. The kind of leader a fighting force such as the Marines could feel confident in following.

Glenn Hargett, who now works for the city of Jacksonville, was there for WJNC radio station, along with Ron Brown, the station's general manager. Throckmorton was there as a Marine wife.

Hargett remembers the scrambling for passes to attend the memorial services, which were followed by a private meeting between Reagan and the families of those who died.

"The rain may have kept some away, but I have a distinct memory of local officials, chamber members, the faith community and others waiting in long lines for the check in," Hargett said.

The press had arrived very early so their equipment could be searched. In those days members of the Fourth Estate weren't really accustomed to such scrutiny - not like in a post 9-11 world. Bags, purses, cameras, recorders and notebooks were carefully screened and reporters, photographers and sound crews passed through metal detectors. The press was in an area far behind the president, who was distinguishable only by his khaki raincoat and the cadre of Secret Service agents flanking him. First Lady Nancy Reagan, accompanied the president. Dressed in black, she hovered under a huge umbrella.

After their arrival from Cherry Point Air Station, the Reagans made their way through the crowd and shook hands with survivors of the blast who were seated on the front row. Many were in wheelchairs.

The ceremony was brief, but moving, and the president didn't speak. Hargett says the quote that resonated most with him came from one of the Navy chaplains at the service who observed, "You think that it would break the heart of God," in referring to the Marines who were lost in the bombing.

For Throckmorton, the most memorable - and poignant - moment was when a child's tiny voice cried out from the section in which the families were seated, "Where's my Daddy?"

"Never let it be said Marines don't cry," Throckmorton said.

It was a day no one who witnessed it would forget. Although the president didn't address the crowd, his presence spoke volumes to the Marines who attended the service and the families of those killed. President Reagan gave the impression of a man who stood tall and uncompromised; someone who remained unbent despite the cowardly attack in Beirut.

And those who were there said he had precisely the right stuff to lead the American people at that time and place in history.


Regan Presidential Library
Helping bear a military community’s grief: The president and first lady mourn with those at Camp Lejeune on Nov. 4, 1983.



06-10-04, 08:30 PM
Beirut Vet Recalls Reagan's Trip to Honor Fallen Marines

Some Camp Lejeune Marines Killed In 1983 Barracks Attacks

June 10, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- Across Jacksonville, flags now fly at half staff in honor of their late commander-in-chief Ronald Reagan. A bronze statue and a wall filled with names honors the 241 marines and sailors who died in the 1983 attack on their Beirut barracks.

Back in 1983, Kyle Roberts was a Marine helicopter pilot. His unit was in Grenada, poised for an assault, when terrorists struck in Lebanon. Roberts was among those sent to secure Beirut and search for bodies.

"There was no way of recovering every bit and piece. There was a stench in the air," Roberts said.

Roberts' unit stayed in Beirut, so others could return home.

"We were on a higher alert and if we were shot at, we shot back," he said.

Two weeks after the attack, President Reagan and the first lady attended a memorial service at Camp Lejeune. They took time to meet some of the men wounded in the attack.

When news of their visit reached the troops still in Beirut, Roberts said the troops were touched by Reagan's tribute.

"When the president came here to Camp Lejeune, he didn't even speak," he said. "You know he didn't take the opportunity to make any kind of political statements or this or that. He was just there to honor the fallen."

Like many Beirut veterans, Roberts returns to the Memorial wall each October to remember his fallen brothers. This week, he plans to quietly honor the commander-in-chief who guided them through that dark time.

"I think he was the greatest president we ever had," Roberts said. "I think we're all going to miss him."

Beirut veterans plan to honor Reagan at this year's annual ceremony marking the bombing.



06-10-04, 10:21 PM
Why shoudn't he feel the pain, he ordered them there.

I always wondered why some military folks didn't have their heads handed to them.

Unlike our current empty hat of a president, I do give Reagan credit for at least taking some responsibility.

Phantom Blooper
06-11-04, 06:35 AM
I could compare apples and oranges with you about different wars, conflicts, campaigns and uprisings that the Marine Corps has been involved with to the end of creation.Regardless of our opinions about the United States involvement in Lebanon in 1982-1984 . If you would do your research you will find that the United States entered into the multi-national peacekeeping force agreement after much controversary and debate. The initial involvement was to evacuate the PLO out of Lebanon and help keep the BIA open and to show the flag. There is more history behind this operation; If you desire to learn more read the books out or surf the web. From day one this mission was a political and international situation. The hands of the Marines on the ground were tied. My comrades and I followed the orders of the Commander in Chief, as any honorable military member would do. When the United States enacted the policies, the rules of engagement, and other orders the original order if we forgot was to “I________________do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” President Reagan was in a no win situation also. He retaliated with the USS New Jersey and politics behind the scenes were involved.He was one of my CIC's...one that I was proud to have served under and still am proud to have served under."Sending the Marines to Beirut was the source of my greatest regret and greatest sorrow." - About the Lebanon bombing that killed 241 servicemen in 1983, from President Reagan's 1990 book, "An American Life" All the victims,families and comrades have suffered enough for the past twenty plus years.It's a hell of a thing to hold a grudge all this time,especially if you were involved in the MNPKF.But since you have not stated that you were,let it go and let the man RIP. Before his illness struck he had a good nine years to think of the mistakes of Lebanon and I am sure that it grated on a nerve.He pushed as far as the world situation at the time let him.Was he happy about it ? NO! Were we? NO! An old Indian saying,"Do not criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins." Let the man rest in peace. Goodbye Mr. Reagan!

Semper-Fi! "Never Forget" Chuck Hall :marine:

06-11-04, 07:44 AM
Excellent post Phantom Blooper.

I wonder if clinton ever feels any pain for NOT taking the Sudanese Government up on their offer of Osama Bin Laden ... not once, not twice, but THREE times. billy jeff clinton, (and his administration, e.g., Janet Reno), has more unanswered blood on his hands than any other living former President ... where's the outrage? and did next to nothing to when our service personnel were attacked; let's recap (not in any particular order):

The Khobar Towers
The Two Embassay bombings in Africa
The attack on the USS Cole
"Blackhawk Down" Somalia
1993 Twin Towers Bombing

Have I left anything out?

To my recollection all he did was blow up an aspirin factory ... and shoot a couple of missiles into a Iraqi government building at a during which is was EMPTY(around 0200), except for the janitors that were killed.

I find it rather interesting to read arguments from the left about the right and how there needs to be accountability with regard to these types of issues ... especially a Vietnam vet. Remind me, ivalis ... which side put our troops in Vietnam, and which side fortified the early numbers? Wasn't it Kennedy/Johnson?? Suggest you use your own unit of measure equally with the political party you seem to allign yourself with. But you did get one thing right ... Mr. Reagan DID accept responsibility ... something the left would NEVER have the mettle to do.

06-11-04, 08:31 AM
Johnson essentially quit the presidency over Viet-Nam. That sounds like taking responsibility to me.

We'll never know what Kennedy had in mind.

06-11-04, 10:22 AM
Thank you Phantom Blooper...besides what you said (which was well stated) let me just add...





There is not a day that I don't weap for my fallen brothers in arms...I'm only uplifted in the fact that if I could talk to them, by the number they would all say that they would do it again gladly...



06-11-04, 11:53 AM
Originally posted by ivalis
Johnson essentially quit the presidency over Viet-Nam. That sounds like taking responsibility to me.

Quitting does not equate to taking responsibility. If johnson had any inclination that the war was not one we could win, he should have pulled the troops out BEFORE he tucked tail and ran; rather he left that job to Richard Nixon ... who is only remembered for Watergate.

Again, suggest you use the same unit of measure for the party you allign yourself with and defend. I do take notice that you sidestepped billy-jeff's failure to bring those to justice who attacked us ... which ultimately has us where we are today.

06-11-04, 12:49 PM
I have a question about this "ivalis" character. Whoever they are stated they served at "LeJuene, Vieques, Nam"?

Are they even a Marine? If so why not state so? Why be embarassed to be a Marine and not answer yes or no? There is nothing marked! A Marine would check yes! A Marine would NOT leave that blank!

I served with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune.

Something isn't right with this...I'm only saying this because I've noticed severe negativity towards our Armed Forces and our President. And now he wants to bad mouth a dead President? I say enough is enough!

Am I the only one who senses this?

P.S. God bless you Mr. Reagan i.e. "The Great Communicator"!

06-11-04, 12:57 PM
Look, I never HAVE been sure about Ivalis. I USUALLY don't agree with what he has to say, and have asked him several times if he was a Marine or not. Maybe he is like Kerry? Ashamed of what he did except when it suits his purposes? not sure.

The thing is, I WILL give him the respect I would give anyone else, as long as he continues to give me his. He DOES seem a bit odd though :D LOL

06-11-04, 01:00 PM
If he is a Marine I apoligize. I just don't see it. And odd yes! But why not state you are a Marine if you really are one?

I AM PROUD TO CLAIM THAT TITLE! I will be proud until the day I die too!

06-11-04, 01:06 PM
I don't know if my position is under stood judging from the last post... <br />
<br />
My position is this... <br />
<br />
I'm a Marine...I have been skillfully trained to execute the policies of this government that I...

06-11-04, 01:10 PM
well said, BHABIT.

06-11-04, 01:10 PM
Gunny BHABIT I read you loud and clear!

Semper Fi brother!

06-11-04, 01:21 PM
ivalis is a Marine...;)

He speaks His opinion...which can/will stir the pot....


06-11-04, 01:28 PM
Ellie said it...So it has to be true. Hmmm Ellie I seem to be somewhat like ivalis at times. Depending on my mood. Speaking my mind and getting my ass chewed. Words are only words. But telling a Marine he isn't one is UNSAT!

Speaking from personal experiences. That is the worst thing you can say to any Marine is that he isn't one. That kind of talk makes any Marine see RED!

And on that note I apoligize to ivalis. SORRY MARINE! Please forgive me?

Semper Fi!

06-11-04, 01:52 PM
Originally posted by BHABIT
Johnson...don't want to talk about him...as I don't think it benifits my or our cause to talk about them. That just leads to more of what we have too much of...division.

My duty is to walk the line that nobody else wants to do...to kill without hesitation or discrimination...why?...so all the philosophers can sit and debate the issues. More importantly though is so the Mothers, childen and all the mases in this country that do not have the means to protect themselves...can go to sleep each night without fear!!

My point about johnson is simple and very clear and not meant to re-event the wheel of debate over Vietnam, but to bring forth a fact regarding blood on the hands of Presidents ... past and present ... for the benefit of a Vietnam Veteran, ivalis.

While I thank you for your duty to Corps and Country, I also (politely) remind you that my husband, daughter, two sons-in-law and nephew are also "walking the line" as I type ... we would have had two daughters in the Corps, if it wasn't for my middle daughter's unfortunate deafness in her left ear.

If the politicians would stick to politics and let the Generals manage the war, I think America would do a whole lot better in a lot less time ... that's MY opinion ... afforded in part by "my" Marines.

Semper Mom,
PROUD Wife of SgtMaj Charles Shinn - 4th LAAD Bn SgtMaj
PROUD Mom of Cpl Sarah Lane - HMH 769
PROUD Mom-in-Law of Sgt Owen Lane - HMM 764 (DEPLOYED OIF II)
PROUD Mom-in-Law of LCpl "Drew" Andrews - 1st MAR Reg (DEPLOYED OIF II)
PROUD Aunt of LCpl Tim Collins - 1/1 "C" Co (DEPLOYED OIF II)

06-11-04, 01:53 PM
Originally posted by snipowsky
Words are only words.

Words have meaning.