For those who cannot forget Beirut bombings, Marine veteran walks
By THOMAS BRENNAN | The (Jacksonville, N.C.) Daily News | Published: October 2, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, N.C.— Doc Doolittle’s journey is more than a calling; it's an obligation.
An obligation to the fallen, the survivors and the families involved in the 1983 bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.
Tuesday, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Swansboro, Doolittle began a daily 12.5-mile walk in and around Jacksonville — and he will continue over the next 22 days, ending at Lejeune Memorial Gardens on Oct. 23. On that day, he will have walked more than 273 symbolic miles — one for each servicemember who died during the terrorist attacks in Beirut.
“These guys need to be remembered and I feel as though they are forgotten for the most part,” said Doolittle, 52, of Centennial, Colo. “In Jacksonville, it is well known, but even in the young part of the Marine Corps, there’s not a lot of people who remember what happened 30 years ago. And even fewer people know across America. It needs to be brought to people’s attention.”
At 22 years old, Doolittle was a Marine stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. when the bombing erupted. When he thinks about the bombing now, he still can feel his fury on that day. Doolittle said he and some fellow Marines all wanted to fly to Lebanon and get revenge. According to him, the bombing in Beirut was a major start of hostility in the war on terror — something that should require a moment of silence across the United States.
“The bombing is still a pretty tragic event,” Doolittle said. “Unlike many other notable historical events, it seems as though it’s lost in the blur but in 1983 it was a pretty big deal. The reason to do this is because of that loss — to recognize everyone involved.”
A sense of accomplishment is all Doolittle said he expects to get out of the walk but if it brings attention to the anniversary or inspires one person to reflect, then it will be worth it. Doolittle believes that attacks like the one in Beirut should be taught in schools, but fears they are not.
“Twelve and one half miles per day doesn’t really sound like a lot but it’s going to cause a lot of wear and tear on my body,” Doolittle said. “If I can do more miles each day in the beginning to make it easier in the end then I will, but we will see. I know what’s going to happen to me. It’s going to be tiring.”
Doolittle has been planning the event for more than four years and has received nothing but support from Lockheed Martin and Argus, his two employers who allowed him to take a month off of work to complete the walk, he said.
In 2008, Doolittle completed a similar walk for the 25th anniversary that began in Virginia Beach, Va. and ended in Jacksonville after a total of 246 miles. He is confident that he will complete the additional mileage required to reach his 273 mile total, he said.
“The Marine bond drives this,” said Doolittle, whose son is a Marine with 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines aboard Camp Lejeune. “The Corps is a bond that should never be broken. We should always recall our past. Marines do the things we do because of what others have done before us. We do it for the guy next to us. We do it for the guys who died in combat or in other ways and to push the Marine Corps in a better position. The Marine Corps is a fraternal order that has an indescribable bond. We take care of each other and we never forget.”
For those interested in following Doolittle’s progress, follow him on Facebook by searching for #Beirut or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.