Monday, October 20, 2014

Camp LeJeune's Beirut Memorial & More.

I had the privilege of riding last Saturday with the Proud Few Motorcycle Club as a guest. Quite the honor I might add. We met up here in Virginia Beach and headed south with our final destination being the Beirut Memorial, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC. First stop was to meet up with the main body at the residence of one of the Proud Few members. We then assembled and rode to the Memorial. There was quite a contrast between the rumble of steel as we rode to the site and the solemn silence once on site and in the presence of not only the Beirut Memorial but also the Vietnam Memorial...being one of the only Vietnam Veterans its draw was as magnetic as was the purpose of the ride.




It doesn't take very long for the inscription that pays the silent tribute to those fallen at the hands of ignorance and cowardice consumes everything that we stand and defend at all costs envelopes your whole being, your whole existence. It taps into the raw and deeply buried feelings that we sometimes have to draw upon to stand the line of defense and not confuse it with vengeance and revenge. The line that separates the cowards that committed this brutal attack against those who were serving in peace to protect our citizens as they served upon foreign soil at our Embassy. 


There were 241 casualties as a result of the barracks bombing, 220 were Marines and the majority of them were stationed at Camp Lejeune with Battalion 1/8.






















































There were several monuments on site as well...some in reference to this Memorial and like the one below honoring those that may not stand in harm's way but have paid a sacrifice that goes beyond and what only they can relate. It is not only those that stand in harm's way that have been touched by war. Not even those of us that have stood on foreign soils defending what our country has chosen to take a stand on can relate.







As mentioned there was also a Vietnam Memorial...and one of the most impressive outside of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in our Nations Capital. But it did afford me the opportunity to visit a few friends and again share with them my gratitude for briefly being part of my life through a bond that will never be broken. 

Gaylen Ray Gallion...


George "Spike" Allen Guy (picture had too much glare) and Gordon Lee Page...



Sadly not the only names that I know that are etched in the Monuments and Memorials that pay a tribute to the loss of those that stood to defend their land and beliefs. I served with Galyen, I grew up with Spike and that which is shared with Air Force Col. Gordon Page is one of those things that is really hard to explain. He was shot down over North Vietnam and listed as MIA (Missing in Action) on the day I arrived in Vietnam in 1966. In the early 70's his remains would be identified and status changed to KIA (Killed in Action) His wife and one of her son's would move to the town Elaine and I lived in until I was hired by the California Highway Patrol in the late 70's. I have worn and still do on occasion his bracelet. The bracelet was given to me by another Vietnam Veteran. Back then you couldn't specify the individual who would be on the bracelet, you ordered, they sent one. My  friend Bill had ordered two, one for himself and one for me. This was one of the two that he received. You have no idea the energy that was drained from my soul when I saw the date listed as the Action Date for the event that led to his death.  I was given the bracelet in 1982 and can still, to this day remember the emotion that cast a cold, musty shadow over my being when it was handed to me. And the courage and pride in rendered that same soul knowing we shared values and commitments that only a few share. For we are a few regardless of the service branch. 

The Memorial, as stated, was quite impressive. The glass panels, etched with the names of those fallen surrounded a the fountain enhanced shrine that honored them. It was all announced by the Monument Wall with the service medallions attached sitting before the flags of each branch. 




I guess the hardest part of the day was riding past the huge banner announcing a local Quilt Show. I didn't have the opportunity to stop. I couldn't figure out how to persuade 35 other Marines, on a mission to the Memorial as the 30th Anniversary of the Beirut Bombing approaches, bearing names like Rage, Mule, Big Whiskey, Goose and One Shot to take a detour to the display of quilts and quilt wares. I'm not sure they are going to pay much attention to one who carries "Lessie Poo" as a road name very seriously. It's another story. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do...

1 comment:

  1. Les you might be surprised, I went to the beach one day to look at the wave while I crocheted. It was a fishing beach so you could drive you car right on the beach, A motorcycle drove onto the beach, the rider wore leather and tatooes, asked if i minded if he shared my blanket. He did, and right after he sat down, he took out his needlepoint project he was working on, needless to say I would never had expected that!

    ReplyDelete