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Beirut explosion artifact to be displayed at Port Charlotte park

The explosion killed 241 Americans in 1983, including Port Charlotte's Cpl. William R. Gaines.
Posted at 7:49 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 19:49:04-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — A flagpole, taken from the site of the explosion that killed 241 Americans in 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon, will soon be displayed in Port Charlotte.

The flagpole will be a part of the Beirut Peacekeeper's Memorial Tower currently under construction at the William R. Gaines Jr. Veterans Memorial Park.

The park in which the flagpole will stand is named after Port Charlotte's Marine Corps Corporal William R. Gaines Jr., who was just 21-years-old when he was killed in the explosion.

In 2023, his brother Michael Gaines, took a trip to the site of the explosion in Lebanon. There, Gaines found the flagpole still buried in the rubble and brought it back to the U.S.

"We discovered the pole and didn't realize the full significance of it until later," said Gaines. "It's going to hold the Marine Corps flag similar to what it held 40 years ago."

Gaines said displaying the flagpole will help educate future generations about the sacrifices service members like his brother William gave to the country.

"To be able to come an touch that pole and to realize where its been and the story behind it, to me its similar to the Iwo Jima story and other stories of the history of our country. So, the fact that there is a piece of that history in Port Charlotte is significant."

Phase 1 of the tower's construction is expected to be completed by this summer, with the goal to have the whole project completed by next winter.