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Monday, May 29, 2006

The First Duty Is To Remember

Today is Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have given everything, for the freedoms our country enjoys, and others wish to experience.

In trying to figure out what to write, to memorialize those who've given their lives in service to our country, I realized I'd written such a piece last year to commemorate the anniversary of the Beruit Barracks bombing. I'm reposting it today to remember the the 241 service members who were killed that day; a day that shaped my outlook on life in many ways.

The title to this post is a link to a list that has great meaning to me. If you believe the War on Terror started on 9/11, you definitely need to follow the link, and remember, it started long before that.

22 years ago today (10/23/1983) was my very first morning waking up on a Navy ship. I was onboard the USS Iwo Jima, waiting for a flight to my ship, the USS New Jersey floating around off the coast of Lebanon.

I didn't get to wake up to a bugle, or reveille, or some droll thing like that. Instead I was shaken out of a sound sleep, and asked what type blood I had, because they needed donations.

My blood type wasn't necessary, so instead I was sent to the flight deck, and told to unload helo's. That was the first time I had a chance to ask "What the hell's going on", and was told the Marine barracks had been destroyed by some kind of bomb.

When the helo's started landing we were told where to go, two at a time, and grab a stretcher. Believe me, this was not what I'd expected when I joined the Navy.

I don't know how many stretchers I carried, I only specifically remember one, that's because it was a SEAL I'd had a few beers with a couple of days earlier in Sicily, while we waited for a flight. I do know that medical overflow on the Iwo Jima held about 100 people, and it was pretty full.

Later that evening I was asked if I wanted to go to "the beach" and help with the search. I couldn't do it. I'd seen more death, and maiming in the first 10 hours I was awake that day than I had in 18 previous years (or the 23 since), and the idea of going and looking for people in ruble just wasn't working. Instead, I spent the next two hours on the fantail of the ship, alternating between crying and puking.

For the next two nights I slept in a Marine berth, directly above the wounded jarheads, sailors, and soldiers, listening to their pain, wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into.

On 25 October I finally got a flight off of Iwo to my actual duty station, USS New Jersey. I will say I took great satisfaction in the fact that on December 14th we fired our 16" guns on some positions ashore. I was even happier in February 1984, when we fired 288 rounds on my watch. We completely depleted the stores for turret one that night, and had to give the duties to #2.

241 were killed 10/23/1983, hundreds others injured, many families destroyed, I will never forget them, you shouldn't either.

For those of you who believe George Bush or any other American is to blame for the "War on Terror", get a clue, the war started much earlier. It started even before my first hand experience, in April of 1983 when the US Embassy was bombed in Beirut killing 63, including 17 Americans.

While you are holding your picnic today, swimming at the beach, or enjoying a family get together, remember those who helped secure the freedoms you are enjoying.

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Blogger shoprat said...

The worst thing about that day is that we cut and ran rather than face a murderous enemy thus encouraging him to do more. We must remember our mistakes and learn from them.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

I remember. I can't call my Dad and thank him, but I did put a flag on his grave. I can call my SEAL friend and tell him how grateful I am to him and I can tell you. Thank you Bob.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

I remember that day. I was in the Coast Guard at the time. I had been in for about three years when that happened.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Newsguy said...

And Ronald Reagan diverted attention from the entire affair by immediately launching an attack on Grenada.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Wow!! That was a very moving, personal post. Thanks so much for sharing and we will never forget. As you said the War on Terror did not start on 9/11.

God Bless all our soldiers and those who gave their lives for our freedom.

4:38 PM  
Blogger MDConservative said...

"For those of you who believe George Bush or any other American is to blame for the "War on Terror", get a clue..."

To add to your point and those that need reference, follow the link for a nice neat list that 100% backs up CP.


4:59 PM  
Blogger David Schantz said...

Great post. I'm afraid that a lot of people have forgotten the meaning of this day and many of our other Holidays. It is up to us to teach the children what this country is all about. Thank you for serving your country. God Bless every soldier that has lost their life while serving our country.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

5:47 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Newsguy, since the invasion of Grenada happened less than 48 hours later, and the ships that carried it out had to travel from Virginia to there, my guess would be it was planned prior to Oct. 23.

Shoprat, I agree though the "cut and run" took 7 months. I didn't outchop from the area until April of 1984.

LP thanks for the gratitude. I, and other vets appreciate it.

LMC, when I originally wrote it last October it was a therapy thing. That day bugs me every year, and I figured this was a good outlet.

MD, that is a great page for folks to look at, I've had it linked on the right sidebar since I originally posted this, hoping some would click it for a history lesson.

David, thank you. I hope that folks do keep reminding there kids about why holidays like this are important.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

Great post.

I just want to say that I personally do not blame the "war on terror" on GWB. I blame him for subverting it to accomplish other goals. I blame him for using it as a tool of deceit.

He disrespects all servicemen, past and present, by doing this.

They deserve better.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

Great post.

I just want to say that I personally do not blame the "war on terror" on GWB. I blame him for subverting it to accomplish other goals. I blame him for using it as a tool of deceit.

He disrespects all servicemen, past and present, by doing this.

They deserve better.

4:22 PM  
Blogger CP's Big Little Bro said...

I remeber those days, because Mom and I were waiting every day to here from my big-bro. I'm sitting here, damn-near crying just remembering it all. I was 15, very proud of Bob, and scared shitless every day. Newsfag, if you want to lay something on Ronnie, why not use the Iranian oil platforms I blew the crap out of, in response to the attack on the USS Stark...When it was Iraq who actually hit her with an Exocet. And Prague, what goals? Oil? Of course, we're stealing all of Iraq's oil, that's why gas is so cheap these days..huh? I CALL "NO MORE IDIOTS" FROM NOW ON. Leave it to a bunch of liberal pukes to screw up a good Memorial Day post.

I'm sorry stupid people exist bro', I may have to expand my "One Summary Execution" legislation.

Remember those who died, so you could sit there and be dumb.


11:52 PM  
Blogger on-my-mind said...

CP - Thanks for the great post regarding the Marines in Beirut - the reminder and the personal perspective. Thanks, too, for being part of the assistance rendered to these Marines. May God bless you and ease your pain, and may He bless those wounded who survived. We all should remember these guys and the Stark men, as well as the families of the fallen.

I thank God that my dad made it back from Viet Nam unmarred. (....although that is a misnomer. No man having seen war returns home unscathed.)

3:15 AM  

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