Wednesday, November 05, 2008

USS San Antonio honor our Heroes

San Antonio Sailors, Marines Honor Beirut Bombing Victims 
Story Number: NNS081028-03 
Release Date: 10/28/2008 6:28:00 AM 

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Brian Goodwin, Iwo Jima Expeditionary Public Affairs Center
USS SAN ANTONIO, At Sea (NNS) -- Marines and Sailors gathered on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) Oct. 23 to honor their comrades killed during the Beirut bombing 25 years ago. 

On Oct. 23, 1983, two truck bombs struck buildings housing U.S. military forces in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers. 

"The Beirut bombing was an event that has stuck with me since I was 16 years old," said Marine Lt. Col. John Giltz, Combat Logistics Battalion 26 commanding officer. "The weight, tragedy and inspiration have been with me for 25 years now, and to be a part of today's ceremony and remember those who went before us is a moment I'll never forget." 

Giltz addressed his Marines during the ceremony. 

"We are not invulnerable," said Giltz. "You are all just like them -- young, full of life, had goals and aspirations. Their lives were taken in an instant, and so we dedicate ourselves to training and remember what it is to be a Marine." 

San Antonio's commanding officer, Cmdr. Kurt Kastner, stated the importance of the event. 

"Our first duty is to remember," said Kastner. "That is the motto and mission of Beirut's Veteran Association, established in 1992. The second is to perpetuate the memory of those 241 Sailors, Soldiers and Marines that gave their lives for their country." 

Kastner's words touched his Sailors. 

"The speeches made about the Beirut bombing were very motivational in not letting me forget why we are out here and what we are doing," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW) Joseph Nayock. 

Several of the junior Marines were responsible for putting the ceremony together. 

"The Marines that lost their lives in that tragedy were all part of an amphibious unit, and I thought it would be good for us to honor their service on an amphibious ship," said Cpl. Christopher Hrbek. "We as Marines and Sailors hold a lot of tradition in what we stand for, and to carry on those traditions is to remember those who have made sacrifices." 

Senior leadership was proud of how the junior Marines set up the ceremony. 

"Many of these types of events are usually handled by staff, COs or officers, but today it was all corporals and sergeants, the backbone of leadership," said Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin McKinney. "It was a very touching ceremony, and I was moved on how the non-commissioned officers did it today." 

San Antonio is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations to conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO). MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material. 

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