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Daily Emails in Book Form. GriefShare is a week grief support group offered by local churches. GriefShare is nondenominational and open to people of all faiths, as well as those who do not practice a faith. Army and U. Marine Corp followed with about 14, men with the goal of cutting off all transportation in and out of Beirut and the capture of the airport and the harbor. Vice Admiral "Cat" Brown became the supreme commander of U.
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S Forces. It was always our job to bomb the beachheads and land the Marines from troop transports. In this case, the Navy was on-site quicker than anyone else and Admiral Brown ordered a contingent of four - 8 man squads from the USS Essex to deploy onto the beach in Beirut and immediately secure the port. The word went out through the Essex for volunteers to make the "initial invasion".
The only requirement was that you must have experience with the M-1 rifle and hand-to-hand combat training. I had both and I volunteered. To this day I can only attribute my action to patriotic fervor! Looking back it was probably the dumbest thing I did in the Navy! From the first moment this "hair brained" scheme became a comedy! We were ordered to suit-up in full dress whites, with white leggings, white ammunition belts, a bayonet, a white combat helmet and black combat boots.
Oh yes, we wore a white armband that said "SP" shore patrol in Navy lingo in dark blue letters! If you have seen the movie "Sand Pebbles", with Steve McQueen, then you can envision what we looked like! A Navy Lieutenant was going to lead the "invasion". He was about 24 years old and the rest of us were between 18 and 22 years old. He briefed us, explaining our goal was to land on the beach and proceed to the main drag, where two squads would block the road to the pier.
The second group was to proceed to the pier area and "capture" the port. I was a squad leader for one of the squads group. I was also the senior member, so I would be directing the 2 squads. I was 21 years old and was about to go into "hand-to-hand combat' - where the hell were the Marines! The four squads were loaded aboard "liberty" launches, small craft used for delivering sailors to the local piers in towns where we anchored out. We were going to land on the Christian -side of Beirut, the ride was about 3 miles.
As we closed in on the beach we could hear a 50 caliber machine gun in a Muslim minaret, or prayer tower. At the same time we could see a Navy Skyraider dive in and fire two rockets at the tower! It was a direct hit!
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Then we heard the Lieutenant holler, " Sailors! Fixed bayonets"! My first thought was, "Holy S The liberty launch approached a pier sticking out from the beach. The coxswain put the liberty boat at the end of the pier. We quickly off-loaded and began to jog toward the beach - yelling "Go Navy"! Fear would have gripped us all, but with our chanting, the 50 caliber, the Skyraider and the adrenaline rush - all I could think of was here we are "the fighting men" of the US Navy!
As we jogged off the pier we were stunned to see girls and guys in bathing suits welcoming us with open arms! The public beach was packed with swimmers, all startled by the machine gun, rocket explosion and the American Navy coming to their rescue! People were patting us on the back and cheering as we ran to block the road above the beach. I took my two squads to the right, down the road, toward the pier area. There was no resistance, just people lining he streets and cheering. I remember seeing a pretty young lady waving a small American Flag.
When we got to the pier the mood of the people was more "war like". We had run into the longshoreman who obviously weren't expecting us. We had two lads that could speak Lebanese and they quickly explained our purpose and then cheers went up. All I could here was "Yankee, Yankee" and a lot of clapping. I immediately ordered all 16 of us to form a line at the landing just above the pier. We stood at "parade rest" with our rifles and bayonets. Soon another Navy Officer appeared and took over command. The commanding office of the Essex, Captain Hawk Christopher, had requested the Marines be held back to protect the senior officers when they went ashore!
Eventually, the Marines landed on the beach and the "war" was over before it started.
The ship went back to sea for two weeks of flying and then we anchored in the bay at the Isle of Rhodes. It was here in Rhodes where I received a surprise set of orders to return to the states for school in Memphis.
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The trip back was another adventure and a story yet to be told! They were the bravest. We were there to serve them and we did. My prayer, on Sunday, is always a prayer of remembrance to those that gave all. The most memorable thing I remember was coming home, being spit on, swore at and totally disgraced. I love my country so much I was prepared to die for it, and for that I was humiliated. It wore us down, but we got thru the initiation.
As a wife of a soldier, it was an eye opening experience, particularly when you have to consider that your husband may not return home to his family. But I thought I would use this as an opportunity to remember the 19 Airman who lost their lives at the bombing of Khobar Towers three years later. They served most honorably and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country and are definitely heroes in my book. Served on 2 cruises deployments during Vietnam War.
I was an Aviation Fire Control Technician. The bravest thing I ever did was being called up to the flight deck of the USS Independence to troubleshoot an aircraft that had lost its radar while sitting on the catapult ready to launch. About the only thing I could do with the plane ready to launch was raise the radome and replace the radar receiver crystals.
It was a long shot, but it worked. The aircraft was the lead aircraft in the flight going out, so the launch was successful. During the mission, the aircraft lost its radio, tacan, INS and every other means of communication and navigation. The only system left to guide it back to the carrier was the radar that I repaired on the 1 catapult of the USS Independence in It was not so brave, but I have always been proud of what I did.
They pumped me full of what later after I was recovered was told was chemicals.