When the troops housed on five ships were diverted in October 1983, they didn't really know what mission was ahead.

It turned out to be Grenada.

Wednesday, nearly 100 people gathered at Sywanyk's Scarlet and Gold in Jacksonville to remember the 20th anniversary of the island invasion, which followed a coup in the tiny nation that put Americans there in jeopardy.

Retired Gen. Ray Smith, who was a lieutenant colonel at the time, said those aboard amphibious ships USS Fort Snelling, USS Guam, USS Trenton, USS Barnstable County and USS Manitowoc didn't have a clear understanding of their mission. They left Morehead City and Onslow Beach on Oct. 19. By the time they got to Bermuda the destination had changed. They were ordered not to transmit messages and only listen on their radios.

"The coup occurred about the same time we sailed," said Smith, who commanded 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment assigned to the 32nd Marine Amphibious Unit later renamed the 22nd MAU. "Most of what we learned was from the British Broadcasting Company's worldwide high frequency broadcast."

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