JACKSONVILLE, NC (WWAY) — Nearly three decades later, the bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, still lingers. October 23, 1983, was the deadliest day the Corps had seen since Iwo Jima.
“That is our duty to remember and these are my comrades,” said Jake Schneider, a survivor of the bombing. “It could be my name on that wall.”
A man driving a hijacked truck detonated a bomb, killing 241 US service members, many of whom were from Camp Lejeune’s 1st Battalion 8th Marines. Hundreds gathered to remember that day and honor those they lost during an annual ceremony in Jacksonville.
“I come here with a humble heart honoring all of those men whose names are on the wall,” said Steve Ryan, who came to remember a close friend who died in the bombing. “My friend and everyone else on this wall are true American heroes. They went in defense of freedom. They did not go as combatants, they went as peacekeepers to defend freedoms and defend rights.”
The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford was the special guest speaker at the ceremony.
“We lost husbands, fathers, little league coaches, members of our church,” Dunford said. “We lost men who made a difference in our lives and in the world. We lost marines who carried on the proud tradition of our corps and unhesitatingly performed their duty.”
For Americans, Beirut was the first in a string of terrorist attacks leading up to 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though October 23 is a day of sadness for many, it also serves to remind the nation of the continuing threat terrorism poses as well as the sacrifice those service members made.