10-17-05, 08:38 AM
I hope to see You there...
Ellie and Mark
10-17-05, 02:39 PM
Brothers-in-arms: 'They came in peace'
MCAS New River
Story by Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. (Oct. 17, 2005) -- "These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn
To be brother- in-arms"
They were more than names once. They were our fathers and husbands, our friends and sons. They were asked by their nation to stand a post in the center of a religious hellstorm they didn’t understand. They were Marines and they came in peace.
At approximately 6:22 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon, a lone terrorist driving a yellow Mercedes-Benz stake-bed truck loaded with explosives accelerated through the public parking lot south of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marines headquarters building and penetrated into the lobby of the barracks there.
According to the official Department of Defense commission report, the force of the explosion [12,000 pounds of hexogen] ripped the building from its foundation. The building then imploded upon itself and almost all of the occupants were crushed or trapped inside the wreckage.
“It was one of the largest noises I’ve ever heard in my entire career,” said retired Marine Major Robert T. Jordan, the 24th MAU Public Affairs Officer at the time of the bombing. Jordan was in his rack in an adjacent building when the explosion split the still morning air and showered him with glass and pulverized concrete.
Recovering his senses, Jordan made his way into his press tent to find his Marines and located Press Chief Staff Sgt. Randy Geddo, who had been “blown out of his seat.” “He looked at me with these big, round eyes and said, ‘Sir, the BLT is gone.’”
“I crested a hill and looked down into the ground below and it was filled with debris,” remembered Jordan. “All that was left of the 5-ton truck was a 40 foot by 30 foot deep crater and a crank case in the bottom.”
"Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve watched all your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
Inside a tomb of twisted rebar, broken glass and slabs of concrete, hundreds of Marines, Sailors and Soldiers were fighting for their next breath. One of those was a 19-year old corporal who went from deciding what to have for breakfast to playing a starring role in his own nightmare.
“When the bomb exploded, there we’re no words to explain how loud it was,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. John Nash, 3rd Marine Division communications chief. “Everybody was buried. Cement, wood, everything was laying on top of us.”
Nash was one of the few trapped inside who was able to dig themselves out of the rubble. He escaped through the screams of pain, the calls for help and the panic of dying men. He did what he could to save the Marines around him.
“You’re thinking, ‘Who are we going to find next? Who is still alive? Why would anyone do something this devastating?’ We went there as peacekeepers. When we left, we left as victims,” said Nash.
Outside, Jordan was among the Marines who rushed to their fellow servicemembers. They did the best they could to save lives, but the day’s horrors seemed endless, said Jordan.
“We went into the debris and there were two Marines sitting side by side and they looked in shock,” said Jordan. “They were covered with dust and they were moaning. We couldn’t see any obvious wounds, so I reached down and grabbed one of them and my hand went into a huge hole in his back.
“At the end of the day, back at the press tent I walked in and heard someone call out, ‘Oh my God, he’s covered in blood. The blood had saturated my utilities. I looked up and replied, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not mine.’”
In the fading velvet light of the setting sun, at the back of a headquarters building, Jordan started to cry. He explained, “I couldn’t hold it in any longer.”
"Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers-in-arms"
There is nothing left now but the memories of 241 Marines and Sailors who gave their lives, the first casualties in the Global War on Terrorism.
“Our first duty is to remember, to acknowledge their sacrifice,” said Jordan. “There are a lot of men with stories similar to mine. They need to be recognized.”
“We can learn a great deal from our past,” added Nash. “This is our history. We must never forget the sacrifices that these 241 Marines and Sailors gave that terrible Sunday morning. They are all heroes and should always be remembered.”
Their names are now etched in stone. They are our brothers-in-arms and they died so that others know what freedom gives and what it takes. They did their duty. They were Marines. They came in peace.
Editor’s note: The lyrics used in this song were taken from Dire Straits’ 1985 song “Brothers-in-arms.”
Oct. 23, marks the 22-year anniversary of the Beirut bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo by: Illustration By: Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola
10-19-05, 09:59 AM
Politics & Policies: Marines came in peace
By CLAUDE SALHANI
UPI International Editor
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Quite unlike the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. Marines in Lebanon came in peace -- and at the request of the Lebanese government. This Sunday, Oct. 23, will mark the 22nd anniversary of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut where 241 U.S. servicemen, mostly Marines, lost their lives.
At approximately 6:22 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, 1983, a lone terrorist driving a yellow Mercedes-Benz stake-bed truck loaded with explosives accelerated through the public parking lot south of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit Battalion Landing Team headquarters building, detonating about 12,000 pounds of hexogen.
According to the official Department of Defense commission report, the force of the explosion ripped the building from its foundation. The building then imploded upon itself and almost all of the occupants were crushed or trapped inside the wreckage.
"It was one of the largest noises I've ever heard in my entire career," said retired Marine Maj. Robert T. Jordan, the 24th MAU public affairs officer at the time of the bombing. Jordan was in his rack in an adjacent building when the explosion split the still morning air and showered him with glass and pulverized concrete.
It was also the heaviest loss the Marine Corps suffered in any single day since the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
A few moments later another suicide bomber rammed his truck into the "Drakkar," a building occupied by French paratroopers. Fifty-eight French soldiers perished in this attack.
The Marines, the French, the Italian and the Brits had come in peace -- to help secure peace in Lebanon. How, and why, did they become the enemy?
First some history: the Lebanese civil war that had started in 1975 had entered a new phase. It was more of an undeclared lull, with Christians in east Beirut and the Muslim-Leftist-Palestinian alliance on the other side in West Beirut, each holding their ground. Beirut was living through an extended cease-fire. It was as though the combatants had grown tired of fighting. In addition to the dozens of armed militias, Palestinian commandos and Syrian regular forces controlled large swaths of the country.
On June 3, 1982, Israel's ambassador to Britain, Sholmo Argov, was shot as he left a dinner reception at London's Dorchester Hotel. The attack was carried out by three members of Abu Nidal's group, a renegade unit at odds with the Palestine Liberation Organization chief, Yasser Arafat. Argov was hit in the head, but survived.
Two days later, on June 5, Israel launched Operation Peace for Galilee -- a full-scale invasion of Lebanon. The invasion was initially designed to push back Palestinian forces operating in south Lebanon, north of the Litani River, thus placing their heavy artillery out of range of the Jewish settlements in the northern Galilee. However, then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon saw an opportunity to suppress the PLO once and for all, and pushed his troops all the way to Beirut.
Israeli forces, supported by their Lebanese Christian allies, laid siege to West Beirut for a grueling 88 days, pounding the city with heavy artillery as well as subjecting it to intense aerial and naval bombardments.
Eventually Philip Habib, President Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East, negotiated a cease-fire. The Palestinians agreed to leave Lebanon for new exiles in Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen and other countries so long as an international military force could protect the Palestinians who remained behind.
This saw the creation of the Multinational Force, consisting of U.S. Marines, French and Italian troops (the Brits later sent a token force). On Sunday, Aug. 21, Arafat, protected by French troops left Lebanon from Beirut's port, heading for Tunis. Over the next 12 days, 14,383 Palestinian commandos and Syria soldiers, as well as 644 women and children were dispersed around the Arab world.
Shortly after the departure of Arafat and the PLO, Reagan declared a premature victory and ordered the Marines out. "A job well done," he said.
On the afternoon of Sept. 14, 1982, Bachir Gemayel, Lebanon's president-elect, was killed by a massive car bomb in an office building in East Beirut. That evening -- with the multinational force gone -- Christian militias entered the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla.
Approximately 1,300 people were massacred -- mostly Palestinians, but also some Lebanese, Syrians, etc. Afterward, though, many Palestinians disappeared from the Beirut Sports Stadium, where they had been detained. Hundreds of boys and men were trucked away never to appear again. To this day, no one really knows where all the bodies are buried, though apparently a huge number are undoubtedly in the mass grave within the camp. But that's another story.
After the massacre the Lebanese government asked for the return of the Multinational Force -- and they did return. They came in peace.
If mistakes were committed in Lebanon -- and they were -- blame should not befall the Marines, or the French paras who paid the ultimate price for peace.
The error was due to lack of coherent foreign policy coming from both Washington and Paris, and their unequivocal support of Lebanon's President Amin Gemayel. That is what lost the hearts and minds of a segment of the Lebanese population the Marines had worked so hard to win.
They had come in peace. Two hundred and forty-one of them never left.
(Comments may be sent to Claude@upi.com.)
10-21-05, 05:39 AM
Ellie and Mark