Writing a book about his painful memories of Oct. 23, 1983, was a catharsis for Glenn Dolphin.
"I kept notes. I had over 1,000 photos," said Mr. Dolphin, an Aiken resident who was serving with a Marine unit in Beirut, Lebanon, on the day when an Iranian suicide bomber drove a 19-ton truck filled with explosives into the Marine compound. The force of the explosion was equal to between 15,000 and 21,000 pounds of TNT, reports state.
The blast resulted in the deaths of 241 Marines.
"I carried around a file. My thoughts. I'd write on Wendy's napkins and Post-it notes," he said.
After more than 20 years, he began writing his book, 24 MAU 1983: A Marine Looks Back at the Peacekeeping Mission to Beirut, Lebanon. It was published this year.
"My memories are not nearly as painful. I had to get it out of my system," said Mr. Dolphin, who was in an office building about 100 yards from the explosion site. Mr. Dolphin said he had minor injuries from the blast.
His harshest memories are of his efforts to assist with the rescue and recovery of bodies over the next few days.
"The rescue effort was pretty horrible," he said. "The horrific things - I described them. I was pretty worried about them, that some mother who lost a son or a wife who lost a husband would read it, but I didn't know any other way to do it."
The explosives used in the bombing were gas-enhanced, he said. The stench permeated the air.
"It left a bad taste in your mouth. That's a taste I won't forget," he said.
In addition to it being therapeutic for him, the book served another purpose.
"I'm a member of Beirut Veterans of America," he said. "The motto is: 'The first duty is to remember.' That sticks with me. Less and less people know what happened.
"I was writing more or less for my family but it morphed into a book. A lot of guys mentioned in the book didn't survive the bombing."
Mr. Dolphin said he has received a lot of positive response about the book, especially from the Marines who were there.
Mr. Dolphin's book is available at the Book Tavern, 1026 Broad St., Augusta, or B. Dalton in Aiken Mall. It can be purchased online at www.amazon.com.
"I don't care if it sells," he said. "I did my job. I told the story. That's the best anybody can do."
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at email@example.com.
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