On March 15, 2023 at 10 am Charlotte County will host a special groundbreaking event located at the William R. Gaines Jr. Veterans Memorial Park in Port Charlotte FL to begin construction of the Beirut Peacekeepers Tower.
This groundbreaking comes as we approach the 40th Anniversary of the Beirut Bombing on October 23, 1983 that killed 220 Marines, 18 Sailors, and 3 Soldiers in a formulated suicide attack on the building serving as barracks and headquarters for Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion 8th Marines. There were over 10,000 American veterans who served in Beirut over the three year period as part of a multinational peacekeeping force that included French, Italian, and British troops.
Dr. James Breckenridge, is the current Provost of the U.S. Army War College. On the morning of October 23, 1983 he was about a half mile away on the other side of the Beirut International Airport. As a field artillery Captain, he was sent to Beirut with advanced radar detection equipment which helped the Marines locate enemy mortar positions. He is a retired Lt. Col. who served in the Army for 22 years. After retiring from the Army he focused on military intelligence which led him to pursue an academic career.
Dr. Breckenridge will share his personal story of the Beirut Peacekeepers along with the historical significance of their mission, and its impact on both our nation and internationally. He has been working with Dr. Mireille Rebeiz from Dickinson College on the educational timeline that will tell the story of all those who served and died in Beirut from 1982 to 1984. The historical timeline is a key component of the tower and its objective to share a story that must be told.
The Beirut Peacekeepers Tower will provide a place to educate, reflect, remember, and for some, to heal. The park is named after William R. Gaines Jr, a Marine from Charlotte County who was among the 241 servicemen killed that fateful day. It is dedicated to Veterans and First Responders, highlighting the connection they have in protecting our freedoms. Information about the park can be found at wrgainesjr.org.