Another five years pass by & Operation Hyperion Beirut 1983 still seems like yesterday to some of us. Yes, 35 years on from when A & C Squadron landed on those war-torn shores. I was with A Squadron who, took over from C Squadron in July 1983. Since then the worn torn streets & buildings of the Lebanon capital have been repaired many times only to take more damage by conflict. Some memories fading but, others will remain forever.
The BVA is on the edge of moving forward and letting others know of our Marine Corps legacy with the scholarship fund and side projects that are being done throughout the country from Florida to California. But, in order to make our voices heard we must all step up and be involved, even if only a little bit, by attending services or setting up local memorial services. We can also reach others through our logo on shirts, hats, and stickers. They strike up conversations and then it's time for you to educate those who are not aware of those lives taken from 1982-1984 in Beirut Lebanon from the first embassy attack to the last embassy annex attack, least we forget those Marines involved in Operation Blue Bat in 1958 and the Beirut Air Brigade in the mid 1990's from Fort Benning and the Marines involved in Lebanon in 2006.
Beirut Veterans are honored at park dedication
On February 23, 2019 a group with many Beirut veterans and family members in attendancegathered at a community park in Port Charlotte, FL for a dedication ceremony. The highlight of this groundbreaking ceremony was announcing the future construction of the Beirut Peacekeepers Memorial Tower that will be a central feature of the park. Rising out of the middle will be 241 staggered rods, one for each person killed on October 23, 1983. It will be a place to reflect on, learn about, and enjoy the freedom and sacrifice of others for generations to come.
35th Remembrance
The annual memorial service took place at The Beirut Memorial at 1030 in the morning on the 23rd.  There were 3,000 people in attendance and another 30,000 people watching online. It was one of the best attended memorials.  

This was a special service as we heard from the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Neller, and the 29thCommandant, the much loved and well revered General Gray.  If you did not get to attend, you can view the service here

Doc Brown at Paris Island - Oct. 2018
Alicia:    When were you in Beirut and what was your role?  

Doc:   I was assigned as a Hospital Corpsman HM3 to the MSSG24 MED/DN DET in support of the Marine Amphibious Unit MAU and the BLT 1/8 from May to Nov 1983.   While assigned to this deployment late, I had the fortunate opportunity to befriend several Marines while deployed and on liberty.

Alicia:   Why did you do the walk and where did you walk from and to?

Doc:   Over the course of the past several years while attending Memorial and Veterans Day observances I became aware that most people fail to remember the events of Beirut unless they were specifically affected by either being there or by sacrificing some that was. 
While attempting to make a difference this year, I developed a plan to walk from Jacksonville NC to Jacksonville Fl in 28 days carrying a 30-pound pack and walking 24.1 miles a day honoring the 241 families that lost a father, son, or brother on Oct 23, 1983. However, after walking my first day with 106 heat factor I changed my plan to walk a straight line HWY 17. Had it not been for the help of some amazing people, Craig Renshaw (former BVA President) who I did not know,  followed me for two and a half days carrying my pack and feeding me Gatorade and water every 15 minutes. Or retired 1stSgt Darryl and Anita Woodard, and his American Legion Vice Commander both arrived with fresh baked cinnamon rolls at 4am to follow me all the way on day six. This also when I realized that if I did not have permanent help I would probably not make it on time. So I called my wife Cheryl) and had her leave her job to help support me and my cause. 
Ultimately we covered 538 miles in 29 days, successfully completing my 24.1 a day 13 times and the equivalent of 2 full marathons while completing the 27.3 for all names on the wall. Raising over $7500.00 in funds for the BVA scholarship fund created this year with an initial donation of 10K.
OUR walk culminated with family members joining us for the last 3 miles escorted by the Patriot Guard of NC to the family/unit formation at the memorial gardens.

Alicia:   Are there any significant stories you would like to share from your walk?

Doc:   There were so many stories along the path I could share, but the two that reinforced my efforts while walking were when W George Thompson a survivor expressed an interest in walking with me a month before I started my journey and kept commenting that he would walk with me. A retired Charleston Police Officer and 3rd floor survivor of the Beirut bombing! His wife Karen dropped George off with me in Mount Pleasant and we walked for 4 miles putting his new knee to work. Honored and humbled on this day to have such a man and his wife walk with us. 
One other example was when I met a young couple ( Emma and Tyler) in a campground and they had asked me "why had we not learned about this in school", I told them " I was wondering the same thing, why"? It was then that I realized that part of OUR goals need to include education and awareness.

Alicia:   Are there plans for future events?
Doc:   Yes, I was contacted by two Marines who wished to continue our efforts to educate, raise awareness and honor the Gold Star families. We are making plans to continue OUR walk from Jacksonville NC to Arlington cemetery, section 59 in DC October 2019. More information will be forthcoming. 

Alicia:   I took a photo of you at the memorial and you depicted what I think we were all feeling. Can you explain what you were thinking/feeling at that time?  

Doc:   That photo was taken when I was remembering the sunrise services and families that had made their journey to the memorial for the first time. Two families, in particular, Brett Croft and Richard Barrett of Target Acquisition Battery both rode the USS Portland with me and both were brought to life by photos and stories from their shipmates and brothers. The term "brotherhood/families" has been demonstrated beyond DNA in this group. 

Alicia:   Do you come to the memorial in Jacksonville every year?  Why do you feel it’s important to be there? 
Doc:   This is my 4th time to the Memorial since 1995. The 30th and 35th were for the recognized 5-year memorial services. The significance for me attending this year was to help raise awareness for the Gold Star families and survivors. 35 years is a long time carry a burden of feeling like we did not do enough or have failed in other aspects of life as a result. However, my wife Cheryl and I will continue our annual trek as long as we are able. Next year we will be providing support to Pete Sloper (red patcher) and walking with him while honoring Gold Star families.

Alicia:   Any additional info you would like to share?

Doc:   Follow us on my FB page Beirut Memorial Walk.

Bike Ride

38 Beirut Veteran riders joined in the third annual Strength and honor Bike Run which started at New River Harley Davidson and ended at the Beirut Memorial.  

This year’s proceeds when to the Charles Lake Milam Scholarship Fund which totaled over $1260.  

35th Formation Group Photo

Hundreds gathered on October 22 to participate in the Formation.  It started with the veterans joining together by company.  Family members joined in and it ended with the vets folding the flag that flew over Camp Geiger. 

The Wall

35 years ago our worlds were turned upside down.  Things would never be as they once were.  Husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, cousins, and friends were lost. Scars were formed that could never heal. The young men that returned home were not the same men that deployed.  The Beirut Veterans of America Organization is charged with ensuring the world never forgets.  The week of the 23rd we did just that.  

Veterans, Gold Star Families, and friends came together to honor our fallen heroes, to support one another, and to reminisce about the “good ol’ days”.  Through tears and laughter, the already strong bond that holds us together grew even stronger.  

Dan Joy Founders Award

This year the BVA hosted the 35th Memorial Remembrance Dinner at Goettge Field House on Camp LeJeune. There were 750 tickets sold to the event.  The event started with toasts to families and fallen brothers.  The Founders Award was presented to Dan Joy.  Ed “Doc” Brown was also recognized for the walk that he did to bring awareness to our fallen.  General Al Gray was the keynote speaker.