John served from 1980 to 1984 stationed at Camp Lejeune with several tours overseas in the 24th MAU HQ. John was a corporal and a radioman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment with the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit in Beirut From Oct 82 to March 84.
On October 23, 1983 John Chipura was a young marine in Beirut, Lebanon as part of the Multinational Peacekeeping Forces there. At 6:15 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. After circling the truck crashed through the chain link fence of the compound. The truck drove between two sentry posts and headed straight for the lobby of the US Marine HQ and barracks. Since the Marines were on a Peacekeeping mission in Lebanon; the rules of engagement were to keep their weapons unloaded. The sentries in the post could not respond quick enough. At 6:22 AM the bombers truck hit the building. The truck was carrying an improvised device which had the equivalent blast of 12,000 lbs of TNT. The building completely collapsed. Because John had stopped to chat he was still 50 yards from the barracks when it collapsed. John became a rescuer of his fellow marines. He joined a horde of other Marines on the rubble pile searching for survivors. The last survivor, a chaplain, was buried for almost 6 hours. 241 of his fellow leathernecks and service members died as a result of the terrorist attack. During subsequent investigations; ties of Iranian involvement were found.
On the Homefront information was scarce. John’s family were watching the coverage on the news on Sunday the day it happened. The next few days were spent searching the dead and missing records. Some of John’s marine brothers from his first tour called to say it was unlikely that he was in that building but nothing could be know. The family did not have word about John until 3 days later. On Wednesday, John finally got through to call his Mom.
John was honorably discharged on May 22, 1987