[ NOTE: Posted with permission from the Jacksonville Daily News ]
The Jacksonville Daily News - Front Page
Memorial Day / May 26, 1997
BY C. MARK BRINKLEY
Conveniently located at the entrance to Camp Johnson along N.C. 24, the Beirut Memorial is a site many in Jacksonville pass on a daily basis. Although Jeff Hamman lives in Pennsylvania, the 38-year-old former corpsman sees it at least that often - from his computer.
Hamman is the creator of the Beirut Memorial On line, an Internet webpage dedicated to the memory of the 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers who died in the Oct. 23, 1983 suicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.
The opening body of text on the site sums up the contents perfectly "They did not make war," the paragraph begins. "They were simply victims of war, in the honorable attempt to keep the peace. The gift of these men was of the ultimate quality and we know it was of such value, it cannot be given again."
All in all, the site is Hamman's way of saying thank you.
"I got out of the Navy in '81, Hamman said, trying to explain where he came up with the idea. "But I was in the reserves and I got called back for Desert Storm."
Hamman returned to Jacksonville, a place he had been
stationed years before, and went to work at Camp Johnson's field medical service school.
"We used to run the troops down to this monument," Hamman said. "I didn't know this whole thing existed until then."
It was on one of those runs that Hamman noticed something disturbing.
"There was a name on there, an HM-3 called Joe Milano," Hamman said, referring to Joseph P. Milano, a petty officer third class from Farmingville, N.Y., who died in the bombing. "I was under the impression that I knew him, from when I was in on active duty."
It was then that Hamman started thinking about the memorial that honors the service members, most from Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station. "I thought it was neat that this thing existed, but I thought it was a shame that nobody knew about it," Hamman said. "I was in the loop, and I didn't know about it."
So Hamman began working with family members of the servicemen, and people who had developed the monument, to get the on-line version started.
"I see this as a whole opportunity with the web, with its sense of on-line communities," said Hamman, who works for a Philadelphia-based film company putting together videos for CD-ROM and is interested in computer theory. "I thought this would be a reasonable project for me to develop, as a 'proof of concept' for these on-line communities."
But he wasn't sure if he was the right guy for the job.
"I kept saying to myself, sort of as a disclaimer, that I wasn't totally sure that this Joe Milano was the guy I knew," Hamman said. So he did some research, and finally got in touch with Milano's sister. As fate would have it, she only lived a few miles away from him.
"It was actually a lot of pressure for me to go and visit his sister," Hamman said. "It turned out that he wasn't the guy I knew. It kind of looked like him, but I am more inclined to believe now that it wasn't him."
The website, which is stored on the computer database at the University of Pennsylvania, the Beirut Memorial On Line now stands as a monument for people cruising along the information superhighway.
Please relay any questions, comments, discrepencies, or inquiries about this web site via E-mail to :
Jeffrey A. Hamman