Hundreds gather at North Carolina memorial to mark deadliest terrorist attack on Americans before Sept. 11, 2001
By Allen G. Breed and Emery P. Dalesio
JACKSONVILLE, NC (AP) — In a moment of quiet reflection, Ed Ayers sat in front a wall etched with the names of 241 Americans who were slaughtered 30 years ago when a suicide bomber drove a truck into a four-story military barracks in Beirut. He wept as he remembered his own peacekeeping service before his unit was replaced by the troops who were attacked.
“It’s a shame,” said Ayers, who wished the US involvement in Lebanon’s civil war had been handled differently. “I don’t think we’re the world’s police. We should determine what our own values are.”
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and hundreds of others gathered Wednesday at the memorial bordering Camp Lejeune. A granite wall with the words “They Came in Peace” honors the bombing victims of Oct. 23, 1983, which was the deadliest terrorist attack on Americans before Sept. 11, 2001.
Amos said the attack helped define the start of America’s war against terrorists.
“The nation was not expecting this. There was a new kind of warfare — the threat of radical extremists being able to target military and civilian personnel with weapons of mass destruction for political, religious and personal gains,” he said. “We will never forgive nor will we ever forget.”
But some worried the 1983 attack and a truck-bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut six months earlier had been forgotten.
Michelle Lucas was 15 when her brother, Lance Cpl. Richard Morrow, died in the barracks bombing. She wished more people knew about the attack.