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thedrifter
10-23-08, 07:03 AM
Heroic Marine remembered 25 years later
Capt. Walter Wint Jr. planned to go into the FBI or CIA after he finished his service in the Marines.
BY CALEB SHEAFFER
STAFF WRITER

Published: Thursday, October 23, 2008 4:10 AM EDT

Capt. Walter Wint Jr. planned to go into the FBI or CIA after he finished his service in the Marines.

Unfortunately, Wint never had the chance to fulfill his dreams. The dedicated Marine and Wilkes-Barre native died 25 years ago today, after a terrorist drove an explosive-laden truck into the barracks at Marine headquarters at the International Airport in Lebanon.

Wint was one of 241 casualties of the attack in Beirut, where U.S. armed forces had been stationed since 1982 to keep peace during the Lebanese Civil War.

Wint’s sister Linda Valania still remembers when her family learned of her brother’s death. The news reports on Oct. 23, 1983, told of a terrorist attack, but the Wint family didn’t have confirmation of Walter’s death until three days later.

“It’s like it happened yesterday. It is very much alive in our minds and our hearts,” said Valania of Thornhurst. “It becomes more tolerable, but it is something you never forget.”

Ken Wint, Walter’s brother, said he remembers watching an early television broadcast about the terrorist bombing when he saw the exact building that he had seen in pictures that Walter sent home. That is when he feared the worst and knew he had to call his parents and head for home.

“Anytime my family, my siblings or I see something on the news regarding any sort of terroristic attack, it brings you right back,” Ken Wint said.

John V. Morris Jr., manager of John V. Morris Funeral Homes, said Wint’s funeral in November 1983 was one of the largest he has ever witnessed. Hundreds of people lined up at the funeral home to pay their respects to the dead Marine.

“How many of those people knew a member of the Wint family? It would be impossible to say,” Morris said. “I’m sure we had many people who absolutely didn’t know the family or the captain. They were just heartbroken for what the family was going through.”

The Wint family lived on Sheridan Street in Wilkes-Barre. His parents were Dorothy Wint and Walter Wint Sr., a former Wilkes-Barre police officer. He had two brothers and two sisters — Valania, Ken Wint, of New Castle, Sheila Wint, of Maryland, and retired Lt. Col. Robert Wint, of North Carolina.

Wint graduated from GAR Memorial High School and studied criminal justice at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Valania said her brother had a good sense of humor and was well known for his witty remarks and practical jokes.

Following his father’s footsteps to the military, Wint decided to serve his country as a Marine. At the time of his death, he was 28 years old. When the family heard of Wint’s death, they were all grief-stricken, especially his father, who died just two years later.

“My father died of a broken heart,” Valania said.

Most years in November, Valania or another family member travels to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to remember the veterans who served in Beirut. A ceremony is held annually on the anniversary of the attacks. The family won’t be able to make it this year.

Last year, Ken Krogulski, of Shavertown, donated a small crystal memorial dedicated to Wint to the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Township. Krogulski became friends with Wint when they attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Valania is still saddened by her brother’s death all these years later, but she is also angry at the person who committed the act. She feels the attack has been overshadowed by the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, and urges everyone to remember those who were lost in Beirut.

“Terrorism didn’t start on 9/11. Terrorism started in 1983 in Beirut,” Valania said. “I mean everyone remembers 9/11, but not everyone remembers the Beirut bombing.”

After his service in the Marines, Wint planned to return to the United States and marry a woman he met from Virginia. He purchased an engagement ring in Lebanon and was going to give it to her when he came home in November 1983.

“To see what it had done to my family, it was horrific. It is not like it had the effect of driving us apart,” Ken Wint said. “It was more that you learn to appreciate one another even more so, when you experience a loss like that.”

csheaffer@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2083

Ellie