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Sunday, 23-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
They Came In Peace

Aerial view BLT HQ
Front View
BLT HQ under attack
Oct 23 1983
Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola
President & Mrs. Reagan at Memorial Service Lejeune
Pictures and text used from the following sites:

http://www.beirut-memorial.org/

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/e3b7f3fde02825c98525709d005fb047?OpenDocument

http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/photographs/grenada.html

A moving tribute to our fallen Beirut Marines from Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola:

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C.(Oct. 17, 2005) --

"These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn
To be brother- in-arms"

They were more than names once. They were our fathers and husbands, our friends and sons. They were asked by their nation to stand a post in the center of a religious hellstorm they didn’t understand. They were Marines and they came in peace.

At approximately 6:22 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon, a lone terrorist driving a yellow Mercedes-Benz stake-bed truck loaded with explosives accelerated through the public parking lot south of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marines headquarters building and penetrated into the lobby of the barracks there.

According to the official Department of Defense commission report, the force of the explosion [12,000 pounds of hexogen] ripped the building from its foundation. The building then imploded upon itself and almost all of the occupants were crushed or trapped inside the wreckage.

“It was one of the largest noises I’ve ever heard in my entire career,” said retired Marine Major Robert T. Jordan, the 24th MAU Public Affairs Officer at the time of the bombing. Jordan was in his rack in an adjacent building when the explosion split the still morning air and showered him with glass and pulverized concrete.

Recovering his senses, Jordan made his way into his press tent to find his Marines and located Press Chief Staff Sgt. Randy Geddo, who had been “blown out of his seat.” “He looked at me with these big, round eyes and said, ‘Sir, the BLT is gone.’”

“I crested a hill and looked down into the ground below and it was filled with debris,” remembered Jordan. “All that was left of the 5-ton truck was a 40 foot by 30 foot deep crater and a crank case in the bottom.”

"Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve watched all your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers-in-arms"

Inside a tomb of twisted rebar, broken glass and slabs of concrete, hundreds of Marines, Sailors and Soldiers were fighting for their next breath. One of those was a 19-year old corporal who went from deciding what to have for breakfast to playing a starring role in his own nightmare.

“When the bomb exploded, there we’re no words to explain how loud it was,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. John Nash, 3rd Marine Division communications chief. “Everybody was buried. Cement, wood, everything was laying on top of us.”

Nash was one of the few trapped inside who was able to dig themselves out of the rubble. He escaped through the screams of pain, the calls for help and the panic of dying men. He did what he could to save the Marines around him.

“You’re thinking, ‘Who are we going to find next? Who is still alive? Why would anyone do something this devastating?’ We went there as peacekeepers. When we left, we left as victims,” said Nash.

Outside, Jordan was among the Marines who rushed to their fellow servicemembers. They did the best they could to save lives, but the day’s horrors seemed endless, said Jordan.

“We went into the debris and there were two Marines sitting side by side and they looked in shock,” said Jordan. “They were covered with dust and they were moaning. We couldn’t see any obvious wounds, so I reached down and grabbed one of them and my hand went into a huge hole in his back.

“At the end of the day, back at the press tent I walked in and heard someone call out, ‘Oh my God, he’s covered in blood. The blood had saturated my utilities. I looked up and replied, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not mine.’”

In the fading velvet light of the setting sun, at the back of a headquarters building, Jordan started to cry. He explained, “I couldn’t hold it in any longer.”

"Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers-in-arms"

There is nothing left now but the memories of 241 Marines and Sailors who gave their lives, the first casualties in the Global War on Terrorism.

“Our first duty is to remember, to acknowledge their sacrifice,” said Jordan. “There are a lot of men with stories similar to mine. They need to be recognized.”

“We can learn a great deal from our past,” added Nash. “This is our history. We must never forget the sacrifices that these 241 Marines and Sailors gave that terrible Sunday morning. They are all heroes and should always be remembered.”

Their names are now etched in stone. They are our brothers-in-arms and they died so that others know what freedom gives and what it takes. They did their duty. They were Marines. They came in peace.

Editor’s note: The lyrics used in this song were taken from Dire Straits’ 1985 song “Brothers-in-arms.”



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