Thirty years ago Wednesday, America got its first bloody taste of shocking terrorist methods in the Middle East.
At 6:22 a.m., October 23, 1983 peace was shattered in Beirut, Lebanon. A suicide bomber killed 241 American troops with a truckload of explosives driven straight into their Marine barracks.
The Marines were there as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
Long before the 9-11 attacks, this bombing and the loss of so many young lives shocked the United States.
We felt it close to home too. Among the dead was a Navy medic from Gardendale, Jimmy Ray Cain. Janet Hall was the FOX6 reporter assigned to talk to his family that day.
Thirty years later, at the Gardendale Veterans Memorial Park, there is a plaque in Jimmy Ray Cain's memory. That memory is alive and well among his family.
FOX6 recently revisited that sad day with Jimmy Ray's mother, Doris McDowell, and his stepfather Roy McDowell.
Her scrapbook tells the story of a mother's greatest fear: of losing her son. The pictures show her sharing her sadness with the entire country, President Ronald Reagan joining hundreds of families at Camp LeJeune to remember those young warriors lost that terrible day.
Roy McDowell had to identify his stepson's remains.
"He was a fine young man…missed him very much," McDowell said.
Now the McDowells are working to honor that fine young man and others like him with a memorial motorcycle ride benefitting the Wounded Warriors Family Foundation.
"I thought Lord if I'm gonna do this I'll do it for someone who needs my help," Doris said.
They hope to raise money through t-shirt sales and donations to help veterans and their families dealing with the wounds of war.
With the help of day star church motorcycle ministries the 82 mile ride will kick off Saturday. Nov. 2 and there will be music and family activities all day at Black Creek Park in Fultondale.
"We are Americans and we care…we forget at times but there are people trying to do this but they need our help," McDowell said.
"My hope is that young people begin to realize what America really means to them,"
For more information about the memorial motorcycle ride go to cedarcrestrealtyonline.com or just show up at Black Creek Park in Fultondale Nov. 2.
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