By Sandi Gohn

The Beirut room at USO North Carolina - Jacksonville. | Photo credit Sandi Moynihan

They came in peace. That’s the mantra the Jacksonville community uses to remember those killed by the 1983 Beirut bombing.

Early in the morning on October 23, 1983, while peacekeeping service members were just beginning to stir, the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, were attacked by a suicide bomber. 241 U.S. service members, 58 French peacekeepers and six civilians lost their lives.

“The Beirut bombing is not something that is taught. It’s not something that a lot of people know about, even your young military men,” said Stacey Pollard, daughter of Marine Sgt. William Pollard, who was killed in the attack.

“The Jacksonville community was hit pretty hard by the Beirut bombing,” said USO North Carolina – Jacksonville Center Director Holly Coffer. “In response to that, the family of the Beirut victims and survivors is very close-knit.”

In light of the deep impact the bombing had on the Jacksonville community over the years, the USO center, with help from Lowe’s Home Improvement, created a special room in its center to honor the victims, survivors and family members affected by the bombing.

The space – known as the “Beirut Room” by center staff and volunteers – features a granite wall monument, stained glass angels and several other photos and mementos memorializing those killed in the bombing.

Photo credit Sandi Moynihan

The Beirut room at USO North Carolina - Jacksonville.

“It’s so beautiful that it’s breathtaking, but at the same time, it’s a grim reminder of why that room is there,” said Stacy Caudill, cousin of Marine Lance Cpl. Richard Everett Barrett, who was killed in the attack.

“But when you’re in there…you just feel at peace.”

- This story first appeared on in 2016. It has been updated in 2019.