By: Christian Garzone
ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) Those gathered at Riverside Cemetery told News 8 for the first time in 37 years, a local memorial service was held for fallen servicemembers of the Beirut barracks bombings in 1983, which killed hundreds of servicemembers.
There were eight Rochester-area men who were impacted by that terror attack, with three of them killed in action.
Each year at Camp Johnson, North Carolina there is a service to honor the 241 US servicemen who died in the Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon 37 years ago today. Due to Covid restrictions, one Marine decided it was time to bring it all home.
“We took it upon ourselves to bring the memorial here,” says Marine veteran Mike Zawacki.
Zawacki is a survivor of that terror attack October 23, 1983. He says there were eight total Marines from the Rochester area in Lebanon at the time, three of them killed in action that day: Marines Alexander Ortega from Henrietta, Craig Stockton from Chili, and John McCall from Greece.
“Since the War on Terror has gone global and people barely remember 9-11, they certainly don’t remember 10-23-83,” says Zawacki.
Zawacki says 37 years ago was the real start of start of the Global War on Terror.
John McCall’s mother was here today to remember him. She says he was a peacekeeper and fit right in to the Corps. She says nothing has been done here locally to remember the fallen Rochester men that day.
“This ah…this absolutely takes my breath away,” says Mary McCall.
McCall says she tried to put much of the pain away for years. Today, she says all fallen servicemembers are on her mind.
“I think we should remember all the young men and women who have died for this country. That have given us the flag and lived up to the Constitution,” she says. Zawacki says he’ll keep honoring his ‘Beirut Brothers’ like this until terrorism is extinguished. He’s been fighting it for 37 years, with a ways yet to go.
“As a human race, we can beat terror and what terror is, it’s just plain evil is what it is,” says Zawacki.