CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WNCT) – The 33rd anniversary of the 1983 Beirut bomb blast is this weekend and in Camp Lejeune it’s a date that hits close to home. Many of the bombing victims were deployed from Lejeune, including retired Marine Dan Joy, who survived the harrowing experience.
“We were sent to Lebanon as peacekeepers to assist the United Nations forces,” Joy said. “We became enemy combatants because different factions thought we were taking sides.”
Joy was a member of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Early on October 23, 1983, the battalion’s headquarters building was bombed.
“They built car bombs and drove one into our headquarters,” Joy said. “There was rubble and remains of our Marines and soldiers. Marines were just lifting concrete and using crow bars and trying to get to the voices.”
On Sunday, an observance will be held here at the Beirut Memorial in Jacksonville to those men.
“The tragedy was that everybody in this community lost somebody that day, said Ron Bower, vice-chairman of the Beirut Memorial Advisory Board. “When they were here in Jacksonville they were coaches and church members, so they were very much invested in the community.”
The memorial was built entirely with private funds.
For Joy, surviving the bombing is an emotional experience that still affects him.
“It was a very tough time,” said Joy. “I get emotional. I remember the faces of the guys we lost.”
The observance coincides with the 241st anniversary of the Marine Corps.
The observance begins at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon in Lejeune Memorial Gardens.