Marines, Leatherneck Nation remember Beirut bombing anniversary

Local groups and community members gathered to remember the 35th anniversary of the Beirut bombing.

A solemn occasion: On Sunday, a ceremony was held to remember the 35th anniversary of the bombing of a peacekeeping force’s barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTO

The Marine Corps League, the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club and others joined together on Sunday morning to remember the 35th anniversary of the bombing of a peacekeeping force’s barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

A group called Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the Oct. 23, 1983 truck bomb attack that killed 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers.

Sunday’s gathering took place at a memorial to the bombing at Front and Dock streets.

The event featured a rifle salute and the playing of the national anthem, Taps, Amazing Grace and the Marines’ Hymn.

Some family members of those killed in the bombing were in attendance. The names of the local victims were read, followed by the ringing of a bell and the placement of roses at the memorial.

Nine Philadelphians have their names on the memorial. They are Cpl. Moses Arnold Jr., Sgt. John J. Bonk Jr., Cpl. Thomas A. Hairston, Sgt. Gilbert Hanton, Cpl. John F. Muffler, Sgt. Rafael Pomales-Porres, Pfc. Manuel A. Relvas, Cpl. Louis J. Rotondo and Sgt. Allen D. Wesley.

The ceremony included a benediction and invocation, and a proclamation was read that was sponsored by state Sen. John Sabatina Jr.

Marine Sgt. Maj. Larry D. Liechty, who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, was the guest speaker.

Liechty said his heroes have always been the Marines who came before him, not a football or basketball player. He said Marines have a tradition when they get together.

“We’re going to toast our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us,” he said.

Liechty called the Marines the “world’s 911 force,” protecting American interests.

“We love this country,” he said.

Liechty read a poem, Ask Me What I Was, which praises Marines for swimming rivers, conquering hills and crossing bridges that others won’t. The poem ends with, “For I was, I am, and I shall forever be a United States Marine.” ••