Camp Lejeune Marines React to Embassy Bombs
Posted August 6, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
JACKSONVILLE — Marines are the front line of defense at America's embassies. Their training includes special anti-terrorism elements specifically designed to guard our diplomatic gates.
Marines at Camp Lejeune pay special attention to this sort of attack for a couple of reasons. They are overseas much of the time, and they tend to be in hot spots when they are deployed. They say this serves as a reminder of just how unpredictable terrorist behavior can be.
As Americans, all of us are impacted by such attacks, but nowhere do they strike a nerve more than in Jacksonville. In this military community, flags are already at half staff in memory of U.S. citizens killed in the blast.
U.S. Marines watch over American embassies worldwide. Guarding embassies is a job Pfc Claudius Oliver says he'd like to take one day in spite of these terrorist attacks.
"I'm still thinking about doing something like that," said Oliver. "You know, even though that happened, just like war situations happen, you're still a marine right? So I guess you have to take some chances, I guess embassy duty is one of them."
Some in the military say the two African bombings remind them of the attack that killed nearly 300 Marines in Beruit 15 years ago. A memorial to those men is a reminder to today's Marines that terrorist attacks can be unprovoked and deadly.
"Being a marine, we've got to always be on alert for something like this to happen," said Pfc Tyrone Pouncey. "That's just part of our job you know.
"If I were to be interested in something like that I would definitely want there to be better security where I wouldn't have to worry about being blown up," Pouncey said.
Despite these recent attacks, acts of terrorism are at one of the lowest points in 20 years. The State Department says there were 304 terrorist attacks in 1997. Americans were targets in nearly a third of them. Seven people died in those attacks and 21 were wounded.