Ramble On

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Revisiting the La Belle Discotheque Bombing

April 5 is an important day in American history - mainly because it is the anniversary of MLK's assassination.  That happened when I was a youngster, and although I was too young to understand the man's significance when it happened, his impact was clear as I grew up.  After all, the neighborhood I moved to in Washington, DC in 1992 still bore the scars of the unrest that happened after his death 26 years earlier in 1968.

On a more personal note, April 5 is the day before the anniversary of my USAF enlistment in 1980, and my discharge six years later, in 1986.  On that Sunday morning in 1986, I boarded a flight from Berlin's Tegel airport and out-processed the next day, April 6, at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

In 2012, I wrote about the La Belle Discotheque bombing in a post linked here - the whole chronology of my evening on April 5 is there, along with a brief description of the events afterwards.

Going forward to 2016, I chanced to read a post about the bombing on Facebook (my 2012 post was also inspired by a friend's post on Facebook).  This time, I was amazed to see the author of the post - Abdul - who was one of the guys I encountered at the base NCO club that evening.  He and his friends had said they were on their way to La Belle and invited us along.

So here we are, 30 years later, and I was finally hearing the rest of his story - they were en route to the club when the blast happened, and arrived there shortly after.  I had heard over the years that he or some of the friends he went with were injured, but that wasn't true either. Abdul's post about the disco concludes with the following quote:

"Thanking God we didn't make it there during the explosion but we were enroute to this club the night they blew it up. Prayers and blessing to those who were in there especially the Army soldier whose life was tragically taken too soon. We had some great times inside Club LaBelle."

I'm so glad and relieved to hear this news all these years later.

(note:  After I posted this, I learned that there were a few USAF guys who were injured in the bombing - but none that I knew personally.  Several other friends were either there or on their way, so I guess the event could have had an even bigger impact on my circles.  Still, it's worthwhile to take a moment to think about those injured from this criminal act.  I hope they are having good lives despite the tragedy,)

No comments: