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Beirut Barracks tragedy remembered in Portsmouth

By Lisa Woodbury Rama, Naval Station Newport Public Affairs | | October 23, 2012

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Nearly 90 family members, veterans and guests gathered on the grounds at thePortsmouth Historical Society, Oct. 23, for the 29th anniversary of the BeirutMarine Barracks bombing.

Familymembers of the 9 Rhode Island Marines killed in action that morning were givenred roses to carry during the tribute.

TheNavy Band Northeast Brass Quintet provided the music for the ceremony whichbegan with the traditional presentation of colors by the Marine CorpsDetachment Newport color guard.

Chaplain(Lt.) Jonathan Henderson, Naval Station Newport assistant base chaplain,provided the invocation and benediction at this ceremony which has been heldconsistently for the last 26 years, organized by Ms. Shirley Zdanuk ofPortsmouth and supported by the Marines stationed on board Naval StationNewport.

Guestspeaker at this year’s event was Lt. Col. William Wando, USMC, currently a studentat the Naval War College. Wando enlisted in the Marine Corps in the summer of 1983and following bootcamp was assigned as an aerial gunner in December, 1983 toLebanon as part of the Peace Keeping Mission there.

“Isaw what chaos really was,” he said as he recalled duty in Lebanon. 

“Twohundred and forty one Americans were killed 29 years ago today and two minuteslater 58 French military lost their lives through a cowardly attack.  These were Marines, Army, civilians andFrench who came in peace,” he said.

Wandospoke about the positive effects that came from the tragedy.

“Afterthe bombing there was a huge turn in American perception towards those whoserve. There was a resurgence of appreciation for the sacrifices made by thosein uniform,” he said.

Wandosaid the War in Vietnam was still fresh in the national psyche in the early80’s.

“Todayis a day of remembrance for those who died and for what we stand for.  We face an enemy who has no concept of honor– that is what we stand against.  Westand to protect others,” Wando said.

Aroll call was read by Maj. Christopher Story, USMC, Marine Corps DetachmentNewport, who served as the emcee of the event.

Thenames read were: Sgt. Timothy Giblin; Cpl. Rick R. Crudale; Cpl. Edward S.Iacovino, Jr.; Cpl. David C. Massa; Cpl. Thomas A. Shipp; Cpl. James Silvia;Cpl. Edward Soares, Jr.; Cpl. Stephen Spencer; and Lance Cpl. Thomas Julian.

Afterroll call, those assembled moved to the front lawn area of the Society for thelaying of the wreath by Wando and Capt. Cavan Croskey, USMC, Marine CorpsDetachment Newport, the playing of taps by Navy Band Northeast bugler Musician2nd Class Kristen Snitzer, and a closing prayer.

A monument to the nine Ocean State Marinesstands on the northeast lawn of the Portsmouth Historical Society.  Naval Station Newport is home to 53 differentNavy, Marine Corps, Army Reserve and US Coast Guard Commands and suchprestigious institutions as the Naval War College.

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