PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (NNS) -- Over 70 family members, veterans and guests gathered for the 32nd anniversary of the Beirut bombing, Oct. 23, at the Portsmouth Historical Society.
Many family members of those 9 Rhode Island Marines killed in action that morning attended and placed red carnations in a wreath that was later laid near the memorial out front of the Society's headquarters.
Navy Band Northeast Woodwind Quartet provided the music for the ceremony which began with the traditional presentation of colors by the Marine Corps Detachment (MARDET) Newport Color Guard and national anthem by Musician 1st Class Daniel Smith.
Lt. Philip Carson, Naval Station Newport assistant base chaplain, provided the invocation and benediction at this ceremony which has been held consistently for the last 31 years.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, was the first to make remarks and assured the families present that "we will continue to seek accountability for those to blame for this incident."
Command Master Sergeant Mike Lewis from the Rhode Island National Guard read a proclamation issued Oct. 20 by Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo proclaiming today a "Day of Remembrance of the Beirut Barracks Bombing in the State of Rhode Island."
Guest speaker at the event was Marine Corps Lt. Col. Patrick C. Gallogly, currently a faculty member at Naval War College.
Gallogly, a native of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, spoke directly to the nearly three dozen family members of the nine Rhode Island Marines killed that day when he said "Your Marines were self-less. Their mission was dangerous and highly problematic but your Marines were always faithful to the mission."
Gallogly went on to speak about the true meaning of the U.S. Marine Corps Motto: Semper Fidelis - Always Faithful. "Your Marines were faithful to each other. They had a bond that transcended ethnicity, age or rank - a bond that became stronger then titanium because it was forged in combat. Your Marines embodied Semper Fidelis."
It was 6:22 a.m. on a Sunday morning when the 12,000 pound truck laden with explosives detonated. It was the deadliest single day in the history of the Marine Corps since Iwo Jima. That morning 241 Americans were killed and over 100 wounded; two minutes after the 6:22 a.m. attack, 58 French military lost their lives through a similar attack on their compound.
"It was a noble mission 32 years ago and they did not die in vain. There are many of us in this room who returned from combat missions because of the lessons learned in Lebanon," Gallogly said.
Following Gallogly's remarks, a roll call of the 9 Rhode Island Marines killed was read by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Porto, USMC, MARDET Newport, who served as the emcee of the event.
The names are: Sgt. Timothy Giblin of North Providence; Cpl. Rick R. Crudale of Warwick; Cpl. Edward S. Iacovino, Jr. of Warwick; Cpl. David C. Massa of Warren; Cpl. Thomas A. Shipp of Woonsocket; Cpl. James Silvia of Middletown; Cpl. Edward Soares, Jr. of Tiverton; Cpl. Stephen Spencer of Portsmouth and Lance Cpl. Thomas Julian of Middletown.
After roll call, those assembled moved to the front lawn area of the Society for the laying of the wreaths in front of the permanently displayed Beirut Memorial Monument; the playing of taps by Navy Band Northeast bugler Musician 3rd Class Geoffrey Scheusner followed by the service songs and a closing prayer.
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