Commandant attends Jacksonville’s 40th anniversary of Beirut Bombing

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Monday, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Eric Smith gave compelling remarks on what has been described as a bittersweet day for gold star families whose fallen family members’ names hold a place amongst the 241 listed on the Beirut memorial wall in Jacksonville.

“40 years don’t seem like 40 years, but it is,” said Gold Star family member Bruce Gratin. He says his brother Harold was one of the 241 who died back in 1983.

“It’s. Very hard. Very hard. I miss my son,” added his mother Maud Mancucci.

The ceremony even evoked emotions from the Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro who said, “We will never forget the sacrifices of your loved ones.”

The Beirut Memorial pays tribute to the 241 lives lost back in 1983 when barracks housing U.S. Marines, sailors, and members of the multinational force in Lebanon were bombed by suicide bombers.

With conflict arising in similar parts of the world between Israel and Hamas, extra security was in place for today’s wreath-laying ceremony.

Marines, sailors, and a community…all one big family with a message for what has happened.

“It’s an awesome feeling seeing everybody here just the support that you get from people here that’s great,” said Gratin.

“And it’s not just my son is everybody else’s son and it’s a beautiful scenery to see that they all come together,” said Mancucci.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith with a message of what foreign powers can expect, if tensions continue to flare overseas.

“And I’ll tell you this, there’s a unit just like it today that’s in the area and we will leave it at that. If you target them, someone else will raise your children.”

Members of the British military, the French military, and even the Italian military all flew in to pay respects on this 40th anniversary.

Commandant Alfred Gray, who served four years as Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1987-1991 was at the ceremony, along with US Congressman Greg Murphy.