Marine Commandant: Beirut Barracks Attack ‘Changed The Way We Saw The World’

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Thirty-five years ago, the Marine Corps suffered the most casualties in a single day since Iwo Jima when a terrorist drove a truck with the explosive equivalent of more than 12,000 pounds of TNT into a Corps barracks in Beirut. A total of 241 service members were killed: 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers.


FBI investigators later described the truck bomb as the largest non-nuclear blast they had ever seen.

“I think we all kind of grew up that day because we knew the world had changed,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the attack.

Neller spoke at the Beirut Memorial in the Lejeune Memorial Gardens, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He said it was the first time he had visited the site on Oct. 23, which also marks the anniversary of a second attack in Beirut that killed 58 French paratroopers.

“Many would state that that event – the loss of those Marines, along with the French paratroopers – started the Global War on Terror,” Neller said. “Maybe that’s true – I don’t know. But I know it changed the way we saw the world. It changed the way we looked at threats. It changed the way we trained. It changed the way we operated – and those lessons learned carried through the rest of our time as Marines. And that impact of Beirut still shapes us today.”

On Oct. 23, 1983, Neller was a captain assigned to The Basic School at Quantico, he said. His wife was back in Michigan, pregnant with their second child. While he and his fellow Marines were aware of the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, “We didn’t know the dangers and the horrors of war.”

When he got to work that day, he remembers someone telling him that the barracks in Beirut had been attacked.

“It was kind of like 9/11 – ‘They did what?’” he said.

When he saw the list of Marines killed in the attack, Neller recognized one of the names: Maj. John W. Macroglou, with whom Neller had served in San Diego. Shortly afterward, Neller asked a three-star general about his family, only to learn that the general’s son had been killed in Beirut.

“I think it changed how we all look at the world,” Neller said. “I think it changed all of us and I think it made us realize that it’s a dangerous place out there and the reason our nation has Marines is so we that can go to bed at night and not have to worry about stuff like that.”

When looking at the names on the Beirut Memorial, Neller is reminded of the time when a reporter asked him what he would say to the families of Marines and soldiers under his command who had been killed in Iraq.

“I said, ‘I would tell them that they did their duty,’” Neller recalled. “And I knew the minute I said that it was insufficient.”

He later told the reporter that what he should have said is this: Imagine a world where no one is willing to step forward and volunteer to protect and defend the Constitution in war and peace.

“We don’t live there,” Neller continued. “We live here. And as long as we have men and women from communities like this, who are willing to stand up and raise their hand and say, ‘I’ll go;’ we’re going to be just fine. And when I think of the names on the wall behind me, that’s what those Marines did: They said: ‘I’ll go; I’ll accept the risk; I will do my duty.’”

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Oh, honey, that Axis of Evil getup is so 2002. You need to get with the times and try on this little number called a Wolf Pack of Rogue States, designed by Mike Pence.

Yes, the Axis is Evil is out, and the Wolf Pack of Rogue States is so, so in.

The vice president mentioned the latest and greatest phrase to describe anti-American super-villain states during a conference in Washington on Wednesday, and clearly, they must all be running around the desert together looking for strippers and cocaine.

The Hangover! Alan's wolfpack speech in Vegas hahaha www.youtube.com

Enter Pence:

"Beyond our global competitors, the United States faces a wolf pack of rogue states. No shared ideology or objective unites our competitors and adversaries except this one: They seek to overturn the international order that the United States has upheld for more that half a century."

According to Pence, the Wolf Pack includes Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Notably absent: China and Russia, the two states that actually have a shot at seeking "to overturn the international order."

As Daniel Larison notes at The American Conservative, the Wolf Pack crowd's "ability to 'overturn the international order' is practically nil, and it isn't even certain that most of them desire that outcome. If North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua are our main adversaries, we are as secure as can be and we have very little to worry about."

Pence's wolf pack phrase follows another tried by National Security Advisor John Bolton back in November, when he labeled Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua as a "troika of tyranny" and a "triangle of terror," which make for interesting death metal band names, but seem kind of lame in comparison to the infamous 2002 "Axis of Evil" phrase from David Frum.

But perhaps they can consult with Stitch Jones, the Ayatollah of Rock-and-rolla, for some better branding.

Heartbreak Ridge - Stitch Jones meets Gunnery Sergeant Highway www.youtube.com


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On Dec. 18, the convening authority for Golestyn's case decided to hold the preliminary hearing in connection with the Feb. 28, 2010 incident, Army officials have announced. The proceedings are slated to start on March 14 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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