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Northern Westchester Marines Killed In 1983 Barracks Attack Remembered

Marine Cpl. James J. Jackowski of South Salem was just 20 when he was killed in the Oct. 23, 1983 peacetime terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon.
Marine Cpl. James J. Jackowski of South Salem was just 20 when he was killed in the Oct. 23, 1983 peacetime terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo Credit: Provided
Marine Cpl. Bert D. Corcoran of Katonah was only 20 when he was killed in the Oct. 23, 1983 peacetime terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon.
Marine Cpl. Bert D. Corcoran of Katonah was only 20 when he was killed in the Oct. 23, 1983 peacetime terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo Credit: Provided
A memorial at the Vista Fire Houuse in Lewisboro honors the sacrifice of James J. Jackowski, a 20-year-old South Salem resident who was among hundreds of soldiers killed in the bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.
A memorial at the Vista Fire Houuse in Lewisboro honors the sacrifice of James J. Jackowski, a 20-year-old South Salem resident who was among hundreds of soldiers killed in the bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Photo Credit: Jim Marcarello/Vista Fire Department
James J. Jackowski, a South Salem native was among hundreds of fellow peacekeepers killed in 1983 in the terrorist bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut. A memorial to his sacrifice sits at the Vista Fire House in Lewisboro.
James J. Jackowski, a South Salem native was among hundreds of fellow peacekeepers killed in 1983 in the terrorist bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut. A memorial to his sacrifice sits at the Vista Fire House in Lewisboro. Photo Credit: Jim Marcarello/Vista Fire Department

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. --  It is just a small bronze plaque, mounted on a piece of granite, but for folks in Lewisboro, it is a somber reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by one of their own.

The plaque sits at the beginning of a slate walkway leading to the community’s 9/11 memorial behind the Vista Fire House  on Smith Ridge Road (Route 123).

It was erected 10 years ago in honor of South Salem resident, 20-year-old Cpl. James J. Jackowski, who was among the 220 Marines killed in the Oct. 23, 1983 terrorist attack in Lebanon. Twenty-one other U.S. service members were also killed.

At 6:22 a.m. that day, a large delivery truck slammed through a barbed-wire fence, raced past two sentry posts, and crashed into a Marine barracks at the Beirut International Airport where it exploded, according to Adam Ochs, fire department president and commissioner.

“It was the bloodiest day in the Corps' history since World War II, when Marines fought to secure Iwo Jima,” said Ochs, a Marine.

On Sunday, the 33rd anniversary of the bombing, Ochs asked the community to remember Jackowski and also Katonah resident USMC Cpl. Bert D. Corcoran, who was also only 20 when he was killed in the attack.

Both the men had been stationed in Beirut, Ochs said, “to help keep the peace in a nation torn by war.”

A graduate of John Jay High School, Jackowski had a passion for the culinary arts and was a food service specialist.

In September, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a measure re-naming part of a highway in Lewisboro in Jackowski’s honor.

A portion of Route 35, from its intersection with Route 124 all the way east to where it terminates at the state line with Connecticut, will be called “Marine Corporal James J. Jackowski Memorial Highway.”

The road runs past the fallen hero’s family home.

When the legislation re-naming the road was announced on Sept. 30, state Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown, commented: "Dedicating this section of a state highway will ensure that Marine Corporal Jackowski‘s name will be honored and remembered for all time. This highway will be there a hundred years from now. His name will always be there. It will outlive all of us.”

“Generations to come will remember that he was a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country," Murphy said.

Jackowski’s sacrifice “to our nation deserves to be remembered forever,” said state Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-White Plains.

“He and his fellow Marines have helped to secure the freedoms we all cherish,” Buchwald noted.

For more information about the Beirut attack, click here.

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