CAMP JOHNSON, N.C. --
On Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove into the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American service members. Today, a monument commemorating these 241 service members sits just outside of the main entry gate of Camp Johnson.
To honor those who lost their lives that day, service members, families, retired military personnel, civilians and children participated in the Marine Corps Community Services’ Beirut Memorial 10K race aboard Camp Johnson, Oct. 9.
Although the race is part of the Marine Corps Grand Prix Series, Mike Marion, the manager at the French Creek Fitness Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and the race coordinator, said this was no ordinary run.
“We started this (race) to bring attention to the Beirut Memorial and the 1983 Beirut bombings,” said Marion. “We (also) want to remember everybody who has made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The participants ran a 6.2-mile course that extended throughout various parts of Camp Johnson. The race started and ended in front of the Camp Johnson gym and was open to the public.
Everyone who crossed the finish line received a T-shirt and race pin. Awards were given to the top three finishers in each age group, both male and female, top three teams, and top three overall male and female winners.
Matt Chambliss placed first overall, crossing the line in 40 minutes, 18 seconds. The first overall female winner was Jo Jones, who finished with a time of 41:47.
After the race, competitors feasted on bagels, fruit and cold beverages, and some enjoyed free massages.
Staff Sgt. Jesus Vargas, an instructor at the Financial Management School aboard Camp Johnson, said this race was a good way to educate people about the past.
“I love being a part of history, and I hope this attracts attention to the Beirut Memorial,” said Vargas. “I ran to remember the men and women who died awhile ago.”
Marion, who was serving as an active-duty Marine when the Beirut bombings occurred, said it was imperative that today’s service members never forget the lives and legacies of those who came before.
“We need to remember the sacrifices Marines and sailors have made – not only in Beirut, but those who have served in all conflicts,” said Marion.
The next race in the Grand Prix Series is the Battleship North Carolina Half Marathon, scheduled for Nov. 7, in Wilmington, N.C.
For more information about the Grand Prix Series events, call (910) 451-5430/0092.