We are gathered here today to pay tribute to and to honor the 222 US marines and 19 US Navy Corpsmen who gave their lives in a terrorist attack in Beruit, Lebanon. They died at 1030 hours on 23 October, 1983; 30 years ago to the hour. Five years ago we placed a special plaque on our Iwo Jima mural, honoring the 25 the anniversary of this tragic event.
It is fitting that we should do the honors here in Coaldale, PA; which has a wonderful Marine tradition. Marine PFC Johnnie Katchak, age 19, was the first Marine killed in action on Wake Island. Later, on Guadalcanal, Marine SGT, George Lutchkus won the Navy Cross. Severely wounded, George spent six months in Mare Island naval hospital. Returning to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Lutchkus won a second Navy Cross on Iwo Jima. This is one of our Nation’s highest combat decorations. Marine Colonel (then Captain) Andy Hedash was the Company Commander of the Marines who raised both the first and second American flags atop Mount Surabachi on Iwo Jima. The Marines who raised the initial flags went unheralded. Colonel Robert Stoffey served four combat tours in Vietnam. He is one of the most highly decorated Marine officers who served in the Vietnam War. These men are honored on our Iwo Jima Mural; which also contains a plaque honoring the 25th anniversary of the tragic event that we are remembering today.
This tragedy remains the single largest loss of US Marine lives on one day since the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. It is fitting that we take the time to reminisce and to honor not only those who died, but those who loved and prayed for their safe return from “harm’s way”. We especially honor the 241 Gold Star Mothers of these fallen heroes.
Unfortunately our Lord deemed that these young heroes would give their lives for our freedom. We must not forget that we have lost some of our finest.
I bring attention to the “Gold Star mother” black granite image; which expresses the anguish of a mother upon receiving the news of the death of her precious son..
The blast was one of the largest non-nuclear blasts ever set off on this planet. The rubble cried and moaned for two days; as ambulances, fire trucks, heavy equipment and rescue personnel were virtually non-existent; or deliberately not made available in Beruit. The Marines and the Navy were also overwhelmed; and had difficulty marshalling the required rescue effort. This was not only tragic, but near criminal.
Thirty years have passed since that tragic day. While the number who sacrificed their lives on that day numbered 241, vice the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost on 9-11; the message should be clear. This was a radical Muslim terrorist attack on the United States. It was one of the first of many to date. Although alliances, nations, and religious factions have changed in the Mideast over the past thirty years; it has been substantiated that Iran was directly responsible for the 241 Marine deaths by use of a massively destructive truck bomb driven by a suicide bomber. . The terrorist threat continues to grow. We must be ever vigilant and supportive of our military, upon whom we depend to protect us from this very real threat.
The United States Marine Corps was deployed to Lebanon under conditions and combat orders which highly restricted their combat capabilities. They had no heavy armor or weapons to protect from the truck bomb. This resulted in the unnecessary and tragic deaths of nearly 300 Marines who should not have been required to give the ultimate sacrifice. The US Marine Corps "did its job"; and this tragic event has been added to the heroic annals of our Marine Corps. SEMPER FI. "Forever Faithful". God Bless our United States Marine Corps. However, we must insist that our military be provided the finest equipment and training available; and that they nor be deployed in "harm's way" without adequate force and total support.
Thank you very much for attending. We will now be led in the "Pledge of Allegiance" by one of our fine PV JROTC cadets.
William M. Gaddes, SSGT USAF. Combat decorated veteran, Korean War
A SPECIAL PROGRAM
OCTOBER 23, 2013 @1030 HOURS
TO BE HELD AT THE COALDALE VETERANS MEMORIAL
THIRD AND PHILLIPS STREETS, COALDALE, PA
HONORING THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 241 US MARINES
KILLED IN ACTION IN BERUIT, LEBANON ON 23 OCTOBER 1983
OPENING REMARKS WILLIAM GADDES
OPENING PRAYER REV. DANIEL MATTHEWSON, PASTOR OF
SAINT MARY’S ORTHODOX CHURCH, COALDALE, PA
THE BERUIT, LEBANON US MARINE TRAGEDY WILLIAM GADDES
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE PANTHER VALLEY JUNIOR ROTC CADET
HISTORY OF THE US MARINE CORPS PV JROTC CADET
RAISING OF THE USMC FLAG CAPTAIN DALE WESNER, USMC (RET.)
RAISING OF FLAGS OF THE AIR FORCE, NAVY, ARMY AND COAST GUARD
PV JROTC CADETS UNDER DIRECTION OF BATTALION CDR. JOHNSON
BLESSING OF THE FIVE US MILITARY DEPT. FLAGS AND THE ACTIVE US MILITARY REPRESENTED THEREIN
BY REV. DANIEL MATTHEWSON
PLACEMENT OF FLOWERS AAT “BATTLEFIELD CROSS/SODIER’S CROSS”
PV JROTC CADETS
RIFLE HONOR SALUTE PV JROTC RIFLE HONOR GUARD
ASSISTED BY PV MARCHING HONOR GUARD
“TAPS” BY PV JROTC CADET
FINAL PRAYER FOR OUR VETERANS AND ATTENDEES REV. MATTHEWSON
CONCLUDING REMARKS WILLIAM GADDES