Jacksonville to honor lives lost in Beirut bombings 39 years ago

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The annual observance to mark the 39th anniversary of the Oct. 23, 1983, Beirut bombing will be held at the Beirut Memorial on Sunday, October 23rd at 2:00 p.m.

The observance will honor the 273 fallen service members, many of which were stationed at Camp Lejeune, and survivors who served in Lebanon from 1958 to 1984 and in Grenada.

The annual event is organized by the City of Jacksonville Beirut Memorial Advisory Board in cooperation with the City of Jacksonville, Marine Corps Installations East, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Representatives from 1/8 Marines are key members of this observance as their battalion was deployed in Beirut during the bombing, and it was their barracks building for the 1/8 Battalion Landing Team (BLT) that was bombed on Oct. 23, 1983.

The Beirut Memorial Address will be given by Lieutenant General David A. Ottignon, Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

General Al Gray, USMC (Retired) the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps is expected to attend and speak at the observance.

Gray was the commander of the 2d Marine Division at the time of the Beirut Bombing and became part of the face of the response by the US Military and for the families of those lost.

Remarks will also be made by BGen Andrew Niebel Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations East, serving his 5th tour of duty here at Camp Lejeune.

Lieutenant Colonel William Kerrigan, Commanding Officer, 1st Bn, 8th Marine Regiment and Master Gunnery Sergeant. Salvador D. Lopez, Operation Chief, 1st Bn, 8th Marine Regiment; as well as Operations Officer, as well as BGen Andrew Niebel, Commanding General MCIEAST and Col Garth W. Burnett, Commanding Officer for MCAS New River will participate in the laying of the wreaths.

Representatives from 1/8 Marines are key members of this observance as their battalion was deployed in Beirut during the bombing, and it was their barracks building for the 1/8 Battalion Landing Team (BLT) that was bombed Oct 23, 1983.

Mayor Sammy Phillips is the sixth Mayor to repeat the words “We will not forget” to the families of those who have names on the wall. It has become the solemn duty of the Jacksonville Mayor to renew the pledge at each observance.

The event will air on the Jacksonville-Onslow Government channel (G10TV), on www.G10TV.org, on social media, and through the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN) via the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System at www.DVIDShub.net.

This year’s observance is open to the public.

In the event of inclement weather, the observance will take place inside City Hall, 815 New Bridge Street.

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