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Family, classmates honor fallen Marine on anniversary of Beirut bombing

Sunday morning, Oct. 23, 1983, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Russell “Rusty” Cyzick of Star City was among the 241 American servicemembers killed when an Islamic terrorist drove a truck — rigged with a bomb — into the U.S. Marine battalion headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon.

A short time later, another vehicle bomb destroyed the building housing the French Army, killing 58 of their soldiers.

President Ronald Reagan had deployed U.S. Marines to Lebanon in September 1982 as part of a multi-national peacekeeping force (MNF) sent to stabilize the war-torn country. The Italian and British armies also had contingents assigned to the MNF.

Over the weekend, Cyzick’s family and some members of the St. Francis High School Class of 1981 gathered for memorial services at the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Mount Morris, Pa., where he is buried.

Cyzick was a member of that 1981 graduating class.

On Friday morning, St. Francis alumni gathered to remember and honor their friend and classmate for his service to the nation and the ultimate sacrifice he made defending freedoms.

They again gathered Sunday afternoon as Cyzick’s brother Frank Cyzick held a private ceremony for family members to pay tribute to the Marine, who was killed at age 20.

The formal Marine Corps Memorial Service for all who lost their lives in Beirut was held Monday morning at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Eric Smith, addressed the 3,000 in attendance, which included Beirut veterans, Gold Star family members, friends and active-duty and retired Marines.

A documentary, “We Came in Peace: US Marines in Lebanon, 1982-1984” is being made by former NPR producer and West Virginia native Michael Ivey to recognize, respect and remember the Beirut veterans.