Find us on
Throughout their stay at the International Airport the marines endured continuous random mortar and rocket attcks on their compound. This prompted a decision to move most of the personnel of the 1/8 into the strongest building on the compound, the BLT Headquarters building. John Chipura was stationed at the MAU HQ approximately 100 yards from the BLT.
On October 23, 1983, terrorists unleashed an attack on the peacekeepers compound. Around 6:00 AM John was walking towards the barracks when he ran into a buddy going in the opposite direction. He stopped to chat. At 6:20 AM a truck driven by a suicide bomber, belonging to a group which would one day become Hezbollah, arrived on the scene outside of the compound. After circling around the truck ran through the fencing of the compound carrying an IED the equivalent of 12,000 lbs of TNT. Since Marines were on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon; the rules of engagement were to keep their weapons unloaded.
"We marines are truly blessed. We get to enjoy the sweet taste of freedom because we know it's price" ~ John Chipura 2000
John Chipura was a young marine who served in Beirut, Lebanon as part of the Multinational Peacekeeping Forces. John was stationed out of Camp Lejeune from 1980 to 1984. He served a few tours overseas. A Lance Corporal and a radioman of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment with the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit. The "Beirut Bolts". John served in two different tours in Beirut from October '82 to March '84, as well as Japan. Embarking on the USS Iwo Jima on May 11th, 1983 the unit arrived in theatre in late May.
October 29, 1983 - John with fellow Staten Islander Rep. Guy V. Molinari visiting Beirut as one of the congressional delegation to the MAU compound
The sentries at the post could not load quick enough. At 6:22 AM the bombers truck hit the BLT HQ building and barracks collapsing the structure. Because John had stopped to chat he was still 100 yards from the BLT HQ Building when it collapsed. John ran to his 24 MAU barracks and yelled for his bunk mates to rise. John became a rescuer of his fellow marines joining groups of other Marines on the rubble pile searching for survivors. In addition they had to pull double duty to cover the communications traffic normally handled by BLT HQ.
"Beirut Bolt" Brothers on R&R- Antalya, Turkey
Saluting Col. Timothy J. Geraghty,
24 MAU Commanding Officer - HQ
On the home front information was scarce. John's family was watching coverage on the news the Sunday that it happened but did not know whether John was alive. They spent the next days searching the dead and missing lists reported. John's family did not learn that he was alive until 4 days later when John finally got through to his mother.
The last survivor, a chaplain, was buried for almost 6 hours. 241 of John's fellow leathernecks and service members died as a result of the terrorist attack. During subsequent investigations; ties of Iranian involvement were found.
Roof of the 24 MAU HQ Building
John was honorably discharged in May 1987.
After his Beirut experiences it was apparent that he valued life and went out of his way to helps others. He became involved in the Beirut Veterans of America Northeast Chapter to always help his brothers and their families.