View Full Version : Mother will never forget son's sacrifice

10-14-08, 08:22 AM
Mother will never forget son's sacrifice

By Al Becker/Daily News correspondent
Daily News Transcript
Posted Oct 14, 2008 @ 12:47 AM

It is 25 years since Christine Devlin lost her son Michael, a 21-year-old Lance Corporal in the Marines in Beirut.

Michael, a Westwood High graduate, and the fifth of Devlin's seven children, was stationed in the Middle East as part of a peacekeeping mission, when on the morning of Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a yellow Mercedes truck, filled with 12,000 pounds of explosives, into the U.S. Marines headquarters at the Beirut International Airport. The resulting blast leveled the four-story headquarters building, crushing many of the sleeping men inside.

The attack, which killed 241 American servicemen - 220 Marines, 18 U.S. Navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers. It was called the deadliest single-day death toll for the US Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, when 2,500 perished in one day.

The Beirut bombing resonated throughout the world, and it hit close to home as a widowed mother was left to deal with the pain of losing her son - a young man with so much promise.

"Michael was really into the arts and music," said Christine. "All my kids did that, but Michael had a special knack for it. He loved the arts."

Michael finished his first year at UMass-Amherst, but left because federal Social Security benefits afforded him dried up. Having a love for his country, he and his friends decided to join the Marines. Michael had been in the service 13 months at the time of his death.

Thoughts of what he could have been caused his mother much pain initially.

"It still never goes away, it will always be there," said Christine. "You try not to forget your kid, because you feel guilty about it."

Christine is planning a ceremony to honor the servicemen killed that day.

This year's remembrance will be a special one, and takes place at the local memorial in Boston in Christopher Columbus Park on Atlantic Avenue, and will be the site for the 25th anniversary Memorial Observance at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The featured speaker is expected to be Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. He was born in Boston and is currently assigned as the vice director of operations, Joint Staff, in Washington, D.C.

"We are expecting quite a turnout," she said. "It's a lovely place, one which a lot of people helped put together."

Getting the Boston memorial built helped Christine deal with her loss. She also learned to cope through involvement with the American Gold Star Mothers (AGSM). Gold Star Mothers are women who have lost a son or daughter in the line of duty. In addition to providing emotional support to members, the mothers work for veterans causes and foster a sense of patriotism and respect for members of the armed forces.

"I learned you don't have to think about it each day to pay respect," said Christine. "And when you do, you just say a prayer."

In 1994 she served as president of the Massachusetts/Rhode Island chapter of the group and recently took on the role again for 2008.

She says it's a way to give back, to help others and keep alive the memory of Michael.

As president she presides over the group's monthly meetings and works to ensure legislative issues regarding veterans are heard. She has just returned from the group's annual meeting in Missouri.

"I want to help somebody else who is going through what I went through," said Christine. "There is an emotional need and helping people makes us all feel better."

Remembrances of Michael are never far away. One is at the site of the old Islington School on School Street, around the corner from where he grew up.


10-17-08, 05:33 AM
Memory of Beirut bombing fades, but not for mother who lost her son in terrorist attack
Written by MOORE, RUSSELL J.
Thu, Oct 16 08


Oct. 23 will mark the 25th aniversary of the bombing of Beirut, when the terrorist group Hezbollah killed 241 U.S. servicemen—220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and three Army soldiers—who were on a peacekeeping mission.

The event marked the single biggest terrorist attack perpetrated on Americans up until the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

In September of 1982, President Ronald Reagan sent 1,600 troops into Lebanon in an attempt to quell disputes between warring factional Palestinian groups and Israeli forces that invaded the country. The American forces were viewed as sympathetic to the Lebanese government and thus became a target by terrorists.

On Oct. 23, 1983, just after dawn, a group of Hezbollah terrorists drove a Mercedes truck through the fence at the barracks detonating 12,000 pounds of TNT killing 241 servicemen and injuring 61.

Reagan pulled all the U.S. forces from the country by February of the next year.

Though it’s been a quarter of a century, for Elizabeth Iacovino, who lost her son Edward S. Iacovino at the age of 20 to the blast, it still feels like yesterday.

“This anniversary is very sad. It brings back all my memories of when he was a child,” said Iacovino on Monday.

“The pain has never gone away. I have pain in my heart that will always stay with me.”

As a youngster, Iacovino always wanted to be two things: a mechanic and a Marine. At age 17, he came to his parents with a request – sign a waver to allow him to enter the service. Elizabeth, and her husband, also named Edward, asked him if he was sure that he wanted to be a Marine.

They both had reservations, but their son was so adamant about joining that they couldn’t say no. They signed a waiver to allow him to join the Marines at 17.

“We said if you’re sure that that’s what you want to do then we’re going to support you,” said Elizabeth.

Shortly thereafter, Iacovino got his wish. He had become a trained Marine mechanic.

But like eight other Rhode Islanders, he lost his life on Oct. 23, 2001. He was the only Warwick resident killed. He was asleep in the base barracks at the time of the blast. A close friend, Jake Schneider was injured.

A Lance Corporal at the time of his death, Iacovino was promoted to Corporal posthumously. There is a monument to Iacovino at the intersection of Beach Avenue and West Shore Road.

Brenda Gomes, a disabled veteran of Desert Storm/Desert Shield, who is also president of the local Disabled American Veterans Chapter, said it’s unfortunate that many Americans don’t take the time to adequately honor those killed in that attack.

“The years continue to go by, and there is less and less that is remembered about this tragedy. It seems like once there is a new conflict and a new tragedy, all of the old conflicts and tragedies are forgotten,” said Gomes.

Mayor Scott Avedisian, however, has by executive decree, named Oct. 23, Edward Iacovino day in the city of Warwick to honor his memory.

A memorial is held each year in Portsmouth, to honor those who were killed in the attack. Iacovino plans to attend. Each year since his death she has attended the memorial in Portsmouth, and another, larger ceremony held in North Carolina.

In her Conimicut home, Iacovino has a curio cabinet with her son’s Purple Heart and military ribbons, pictures and citations on display. One of the pictures depicts Edward in fatigues and wearing a helmet leaning on the hood of a jeep.

“They were his two favorite things,” she says of the vehicles Edward maintained as a mechanic and the uniform he wore.