Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iran Immune From Bomb Victims' Collection Effort

Iran Immune From Bomb Victims' Collection Effort
     (CN) - Relatives of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut can't collect portions of their $2.6 billion judgment against Iran from French shipping companies that owe Iran money for oil and the use of its ports, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday.
     The federal appeals court in San Francisco held that Iran's rights to the port payments are immune under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), because the debts are "located" in France, not the United States.
     The 1983 suicide bombing killed 241 U.S. soldiers and injured many more. Survivors and relatives of those killed in the bombing sued Iran in 2001 for its role in the attack.
     After a federal judge ruled that Iran had bankrolled and planned the bombing with Hezbollah, the nearly 1,000 plaintiffs won a multibillion-dollar default judgment in 2007.
     Unable to collect from Iran, which failed to answer the complaint or appear at the trial, the families asked a federal judge in California to assign them Iran's rights to payment from the French shipping firm CMA CGM and others. CMA CGM allegedly owed Iran money for its frequent use of Iranian ports and oil, according to the shipping routes on the company's website.
     U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White rejected the motion, saying FSIA only allowed the plaintiffs to collect on Iranian property in the United States, but not in other countries.
     On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that if the principle of foreign sovereign immunity applied, it should have been raised earlier by Iran, not at trial by Judge White.
     The 9th Circuit disagreed.
     "This case turns on the question of whether immunity from execution is an affirmative defense that must be raised by a foreign state," Judge Betty Fletcher wrote for the three-judge panel.
     She said the judge's decision to raise the issue, even though Iran never did, "is appropriate and serves the dual goals of the FSIA: affording American plaintiffs with a means for bringing suit against foreign states and ensuring that their disputes will not be resolved based on political considerations, and also demonstrating a proper respect for foreign states and sparing them the inconvenience of litigation."
     Fletcher added that, under the FSIA's narrow exceptions to immunity for countries that support terrorism, Iran's right to payment from the shipping companies "is assignable only if that right is located in the United States."
     "CMA CGM is a French corporation, therefore the debt obligation it owes to Iran is located in France," she wrote. "Iran's rights to payment from CMA CGM are not 'property in the United States' and are immune from execution."
     Dissenting Judge Norman Randy Smith said the courts were wrong to grant Iran immunity, because immunity is an "affirmative defense."
     "As such, it must be affirmatively pleaded by the defendant," he wrote

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Memorial Day Record Turnout for Beirut Vets!!

Record Turnout! Beirut Vets, Families Well Represented at National Memorial Day Parade
Photo: JulieWard
By Bill Kibler
Twenty-Five! That’s how many people made the trip to be part of the Beirut entry in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washing- ton, D.C. May 31, 2010.
This record number in- cluded: Major Bob Jordan and his wife, Evi from Ft. Meade, MD; Randy and Julie Ward and their 3 children from Orlando, FL; Jimmy and Janet Young and their 2 children from Baltimore, MD; Wayne and Kathy Hodges, their daughter and grandson in tow with the “Beirut Bug” who drove up the night before from Roanoke, VA; Les and Linda Kameck from Cuba, NY; Anthony “Boots” Leboutiller from SC; Ceasar Valdez from Washington, DC; and weekend organizer Bill Kibler from Washington, DC. Lastly we had 1st Sgt Willie Medley (Beirut Veteran) and 4 of his JROTC Marine Cadets from Mount Vernon High School.
The weekend started at 5pm and never seemed to slow down. We had things planned the entire time. We started out Friday night walking from the hotel to 8th and I, Marine Barracks Washington for the evening
sunset parade, stopping at the Hawk and Dove for dinner. What appeared as a looming rainstorm gathered full force and started raining at the be- ginning of the evening parade and didn’t let up until about 10 min. be- fore the end of the parade. The show went on as planned. Everyone made it back to the hotel soaked but en- joyed the night out.
The next morning we walked to the US Capitol for a reserved tour of the place. Packed but orderly, we managed to make our way thru the halls of the US Capitol. Afterwards we all went to the Air and Space and at 1 p.m. went to Arlington National Cemetery to visit Section 59 where Beirut KIAs are buried. We placed Marine Corps and Navy flags by their headstones and paid our re- spects and then went to the Tomb of the Unknown and the JFK flame. Following our trip to Arlington we had dinner at a fancy restaurant in China Town.
Sunday featured a trip to the Quantico Museum of the Marine Corps, followed by a stop at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA.
Thanks to Ceasar Valdez who got thru security early enough and saved us front row seats at the PBS Con- cert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol while the Wards took an eve- ning bus tour of Washington, stop- ping at all the national monuments.
We later reconvened at the hotel lobby cocktail lounge area and that’s when Randy Ward’s jaw dropped onto the table when he spot- ted a gentlemen sitting at the next table over from us wearing a Con- gressional Medal of Honor. We fi- nally found the right time and made conversation with him. Hershel “Woody” Williams received his CMH from his service from the bat- tle of Iwo Jima!! Coins were ex- changed!
Monday finally arrived and after 3 days of on-the-go walking we were ready for more. Braving the 94 degrees in the shade, we made it down to the parade staging area where we assembled and waited for our cue to begin the parade. Thanks to Randy and Julie Ward, who do- nated the embroidered service and USA flags, we had our first ever BVA Joint-Service Color guard (including Les Kameck’s Lebanon flag), complete with armed sentries posted on either end from the JROTC Marine Cadets. The crowd gave us a standing ovation as we turned the corner onto Constitution Avenue as the master of ceremonies read our script, the Joint Chiefs of Staff standing to salute our color guard as we went by. We made it ... the entire 12 blocks with no heat ex- haustion and listening to the ap- plause the entire parade route. We are already planning for next year... will you be included?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Beirut veterans, fallen honored with memorial stamp 

ARLINGTON, Va.  — To honor the American service members who died during the Lebanese Civil War, veterans and Gold Star family members lobbied the United States Postal Service and Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee to issue a Beirut commemorative postage stamp for more than 20 years. The stamp initiative started in 1986 when a group of Gold Star family members visited the nation’s capitol. When petitioning the United States Postal Service and Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee failed to yield results after 24 years, Beirut veterans tried third party vendor This led to the creation of Beirut Stamp
“I felt relieved that we made a breakthrough,” said Beirut veteran Leslie Kameck. “I’d love to see more stamps and I already plan on getting more.”
Since its July 15 release, more than 50 stamp sheets have been sold. Additionally, 90 cents from the sale of each sheet goes toward the Gold Star Mothers National Memorial Foundation.
"Not only are the purchases supporting the morale of the Beirut veterans and the families of the fallen, they also financially help Gold Star Mothers," said Bill Kibler, one of the Beirut veterans who headed the stamp initiative.
Gold Star Mothers National Memorial Foundation Chairwoman Judith Young said the organization’s efforts are aimed at continuing a tradition that has affected thousands of mothers throughout history.
 “Our goal is to recognize an ongoing tradition and over 600,000 gold star mothers,” Young said. “Last year we raised $18,000 and hope to do better next year.”
At approximately 6:22 a.m., on Oct. 23, 1983, a blast catalyzed by six tons of explosives tore through the Marine Corps Headquarters building in Beirut, Lebanon. The blast, equivalent to the force of 20,000 lbs. of TNT, destroyed the barracks and killed 241 service members, 220 of which were Marines, along with 18 sailors and three soldiers.
Kibler said the Marine presence in Lebanon was one of good will. As part of a multi-national peacekeeping force, the Marines worked to quell the violence and halt atrocities. This is the validation behind the phrase “they came in peace,” which is inscribed on the Beirut War Memorial and the six commemorative stamps.
“To have this stamp out there recognizes their sacrifice so they may hold their heads up high, if they aren’t already,” Kibler said.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

New Marine Corps facility dedicated in Newport

01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, August 3, 2010
By Richard Salit

Journal Staff Writer

NEWPORT — Naval Station Newport, further expanding its role as a national center for military education, dedicated a new Marine Corps facility Monday in memory of the 1983 Beirut bombing that killed 241 service members, including 9 from Rhode Island.

The building, which underwent a $6.1-million renovation, will house the Marine Corps Aviation Logistics School, with a faculty of 35 and a student enrollment of 200. The school relocated from Athens, Ga.

The dedication ceremony, which preceded a ribbon-cutting for Beirut Memorial Hall, included the unveiling of a plaque that paid tribute to those killed when suicide bombers attacked the barracks of a multinational force during Lebanon’s civil war.

Relatives of the Rhode Island victims attended the unveiling. Families of Marines killed in other conflicts also were present, including relatives of Marine Lance Cpl. Holly A. Charrette, formerly of Cranston, who was killed in Iraq in 2005.

Sen. Jack Reed was one of the guest speakers.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Beirut stamp becomes a reality – without USPS

After 24 years and numerous rejections, members of the Beirut Veterans Stamp Initiative have decided to move forward with a commemorative stamp design — with or without the approval of the U.S. Postal Service.

In February, the USPS Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee declined for the third time a proposal memorializing the 241 peacekeeping Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune’s 24th Marine Amphibious Unit who died in a terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983.

Marine veteran Bill Kibler, who served in Beirut and manages the Stamp Initiative website, decided Beirut veterans and their family members couldn’t afford to wait any longer.

“We’d have to wait until 2012 to reapply with the postal service,” he said. “I was going over the postal service page and came across third party vendors. I thought, ‘Well, gee, what’s that about?’”

After working with Defense Department administrators to find a useable image of Onslow County’s Beirut Memorial, he worked with the company to create six designs for postage and other items, including a close-up image of the statue of the Marine peacekeeper in front of the memorial and an image of the epitaph, “They Came in Peace,” etched into the memorial wall.

It’s not happening the way Kibler and the other members of the Stamp Initiative imagined it would, but Kibler said it is a victory nonetheless for the movement.

“Are these official U.S. postage stamps? Of course they are,” Kibler said. “The one thing is, you cannot buy them at the Post Office; you have to purchase them online.”

And, he said, these stamps have an advantage in one key way: Proceeds from sale of the stamps will be donated to the Gold Star Mothers National Monument Foundation.

Judith Young, chairwoman of the foundation and a Gold Star mother who lost a son in the Beirut bombing, said she would welcome the assistance with funding the monument, as well as the tribute to the troops lost in Beirut.

“It’s good that we’re going to get it out there anyway, and it would benefit the monument,” she said. “If it comes down to it and this is the only way we will get out the stamp, then this is the only way; but we will keep trying.”

Though 2012 is far off yet, Kibler said they would try once more then to have the stamp approved by USPS.

A spokesman for the postal service said in February that the Beirut memorial stamp had been turned down because a North Carolina-based monument did not have national scope and appeal.

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Among Beirut veterans and family members, though, Kibler said, the Zazzle design, which was published to the site on Thursday, has already been a hit.

“My hits started doubling as soon as I announced I had the website up and running,” he said. “Looking over the reports this morning, I’ve sold 25 sheets of stamps.”

A commemorative stamp may seem a small token, but Kibler said its meaning is significant for those affected by the Beirut tragedy.

“It means we can breathe again,” he said. “Somebody’s taken the time to recognize us, which is the whole point of the Beirut stamp.”

Representatives of did not immediately return requests for comment. To purchase stamps, visit

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Does anyone out there Care??????Beirut Vets denied again!!!

Beirut Memorial stamp bypassed again

A citizen petition to mint a postage stamp depicting Jacksonville’s Beirut Memorial has once again been declined, according to United States Postal Service officials. But the stamp’s advocates are not ready to give up yet.

Beirut veterans and family members have been working for more than two decades to get approval for a stamp memorializing the 241 peacekeepers who perished in the 1983 Beirut terrorist attacks, most of whom were based in Jacksonville. In that time, they have received three rejections. In October, many of them were encouraged when, at a meeting of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, the stamp proposal was tabled until January for evaluation, rather than dismissed.

But on Monday, a spokesman for USPS, Mark Saunders, said in a statement, “the proposal was rejected because the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee didn’t believe the Memorial in North Carolina was as national in scope as other National Memorials that have been recently featured on stamps.”

Examples of memorials of national importance included Washington D.C.’s World War II and Korean War Memorials, built by the federal government and managed by the National Park Service. Saunders said that votes taken by the 13-member committee are taken behind closed doors, and tallies are not released.

A leader of the stamp initiative and Web master of, Bill Kibler, said he could understand the committee’s reasoning in part, as other memorials to the Beirut bombings exist, including one erected in Philadelphia in 1985. But, he said, Jacksonville’s memorial has come to be understood as the official one, as people from across the country visit it on the anniversary of the tragedy to pay tribute.

“If this memorial were sitting in Washington, we’d get a stamp in a heartbeat,” Kibler said. “Because this memorial sits near Camp Lejeune, they think we’re on a regional level, and we need to be on a national level.”

There are 12 major criteria that now guide stamp selection, restricting subject matter to American or America-related themes, barring a living person from being featured on a stamp, and limiting content to themes only of widespread appeal and significance, among other criteria.

To brainstorm creative ways to re-present the petition, Kibler said he has been in touch with one of the rulebreakers: George Mendonsa, best known as the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in the world-famous photograph taken on V-J Day, as one of two living people pictured on a stamp.

Other members of the stamp initiative plan to collect more congressional signatures (in 2009, they collected 16) and attract more public attention to the effort, including the possibility of pursuing celebrity endorsement.

A member of the group, Wayne Hodges, a former Marine who was on duty in the U.S. Embassy in Beirut at the time of the bombing, said a commemorative stamp would be a sign of acknowledgement from the U.S. government about the significance of Beirut, and would be a token of honor for veterans and survivor families. That, he said, should speak to the committee.

“When they say it’s not national enough, what is more national than the United States Marine Corps?” he said.

Hodges said he will see the petition through to its success, which he is “90 percent sure” will come about eventually.

“Somewhere out there is the key and we’ve just got to find it. And we’re gonna find it,” Hodges said.

Contact Hope Hodge at 910-219-8453 or