Retired Coast Guard Captain James Howe, now a senior Department of Homeland Security official, contributed a stellar piece, "Defeating the Unknown Terrorist." In addition, Captain Howe, a member of our Editorial Board, guided us through the entire effort, suggesting this, warning us off that, in many ways doing my job for me.
Kelly Erlinger, our Director of Design and Production, conceived and executed this issue's striking cover. Kelly, along with her team of Senior Designer Jen Mabe and Photo Editor Amy Voight, has been our secret weapon since she came on board two years ago.
For Marines, 23 October 1983 is a date that will live in infamy no less than 7 December 1941 and 11 September 2001. On that day, 25 years ago this month, a Muslim fanatic drove a yellow Mercedes Benz stake-bed truck laden with the equivalent of 20,000 pounds of TNT into the lobby of a building serving as the Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport. When the smoke cleared, 241 American servicemen had been killed, most of them Marines. It was the deadliest day for the Corps since D-day on Iwo Jima in 1945.
Several issues related to this tragedy still await full ventilation. The decision to house a nearly 400-man battalion landing team in one building even though a similar structure, the U.S. embassy in Beirut, had been blown apart by a truck bomb six months earlier. Inadequate defensive measures at the barracks. A serpentine chain of command that stretched from the Pentagon through London, Brussels, Stuttgart, and points East to the Marine commander on the ground at the airport. And, days later, the embarrassingly tepid American military response to the disaster.
For the moment nagging questions need to be set aside. We commemorate that horrible day with a Proceedings exclusive, an article by retired Marine Colonel Tim Geraghty (pictured at left), commander of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, which was blown to pieces by the bombing. Colonel Geraghty has not previously written about that monstrous day, its aftermath, and what it portended. We are honored that he has chosen Proceedings to reflect on what has to be the single most painful day of his life.
As Americans commemorated the seventh anniversary of 9/11, the editors here took time out from bearing down on this issue's deadline to wonder how the late Dan Shanower, a Navy commander killed at the Pentagon that day, was being remembered. We found on the Arlington Cemetery Web site a citation taken from the 2 October 2001 Daily Herald of suburban Chicago, Commander Shanower's home turf, which reads, in part:
"The Shanower family has found solace in an article Shanower wrote for the U.S. Naval Institute magazine, Proceedings . 'Freedom Isn't Free' paid tribute to four shipmates who died on the aircraft carrier Midway. 'They knew the risks they were taking and gave their lives for something bigger than themselves,' he wrote. 'I'll never forget them and I'll never forget the day I learned that freedom isn't free.'
With that, we salute the memory of Commander Dan Shanower, Proceedings author.