John Wayne Nash – First Floor Survivor of 1983 Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut


11/20/2016 by Military Phony

“He was on the first floor. He had been buried alive. He and the other corporal dug themselves out. He suffered a concussion and shoulder injuries.” – In Their Own Words, The Marines and Sailors who where there




This case has a lot of twists and turns and it becomes somewhat intricate as important aspects are put forth. For this reason, we felt it was necessary to give you the bottom line up front, which is:

There are conflicting accounts as to whether John Nash was actually in the Marine Barracks HQ building building that was bombed in Beirut on the morning of 23 Oct 1983 or if his injuries were sustained while lathered up in a shower a month earlier.  The later being an incident not directly tied to Iran to the best of our knowledge.  

Inconsistencies in articles, record reconstruction, awards,  and eyewitness accounts of the timeline cast further doubt on the events related to this case.  

Some in the community of Beirut Veterans question why he, his parents and 5 siblings are being awarded a total of $7.25 million.   Attempts were made to determine if information provided to the lawyers handling the case contains extenuating circumstances that would justify an entire family being awarded such large amounts of money while others receive nothing.

We have not received a copy of his deposition or the supporting documentation from them.  The various accounts given to journalists concerning Nash and what happened to him on Sun 23 Oct 1983 leaves us to question which version of events that he gave to the lawyers working on the lawsuit?

. . . . .


John Wayne Nash had a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps. He retired after 26 years at the enlisted rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant (E-9).  Nash was a Drill Instructor, a Marine Security Guard, an Admin Chief and Communication Center Operator/Chief among other things.  Nash was a Cpl in October 1983. Cpl Nash served in Beirut Lebanon when the Marine Barracks Battalion Landing Team Headquarters building was bombed on Sunday morning the 23rd of October 1983.

It appears Nash was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon and a Purple Heart stemming from his tour of duty in Beirut.  Records show the Purple Heart was awarded decades later and conflicts exist with the dates for the CAR and other awards. 

Digging deeper into the case, other questions arise.

. . . . .


John W. Nash and his entire family are due to receive awards from the lawsuit against Iran in which the family next-of-kin and wounded veterans were allowed to be compensated from $1.7 billion in frozen Iranian assets.  The original judgment was considerably higher, but many perceived this as symbolic since it was anticipated that Iran would never pay.

However, the Iranian frozen assets represent actual funds.  These payments are imminent since the Supreme Court of the United States made a recent ruling in favor of the families and veterans. Here is a timeline.

Nash was originally slated to receive $5 million dollars and his parents and siblings were to also receive lesser awards. Later, this was reduced to Nash receiving $2 million dollars, his parents $1 million each, and his five siblings $650 thousand each.

From the lawsuit Davis v. Islamic Republic of Iran…



The total award for Nash and his family is $9 million dollars for Pain and Suffering and Solatium.  Punitive awards were added for Nash and each family member…


Nash and his family are earmarked for a total award of $32,190,000 or just over $32 million dollars.  The actual awards they will receive from the frozen Iranian assets will be slightly less.


The exact timing and amount of disbursements will depend on retired U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin.  Sporkin is the court-appointed trustee who is in charge of distributing the funds.  Sporkin is the same judge that worked on MicroSoft’s anti-trust suit as well as the BP oil spill settlements.

The point of all this is that one would assume that John W. Nash would have been wounded in the Marine Barracks bombing that occurred on 23 October 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon.  Most of the people on the lawsuit as plaintiffs are either surviving next-of-kin or wounded servicemen. The exceptions are a few servicemen that have documented PTSD as a result of their participation in the search and recovery (SAR) after the bombing.

Several individuals on the lawsuit that participated in search and recovery operations and are slated to be compensated for resulting PTSD had no physical injuries.  If this is the case with Nash, it seems to be unique if not totally uncharacteristic that his family would be compensated for his PTSD.  This leads one to assume that John Nash was wounded on 23 October 1983.  This is a reasonable assumption, but an assumption all the same. Much of this assumption is supported by Nash’s direct statements, which will be presented.

However, John Nash was NOT carried on any casualty lists as being wounded.

The mystery deepens.

. . . . .


John Nash was wounded on 24 Sept 1983. He received the Purple Heart many years later. The question arose as to why he did not receive a Purple Heart for wounds received on 23 Oct 1983?

A historical effort was made to determine all Purple Heart recipients and wounded in Beirut, Lebanon. Nash’s situation created a question as to whether he had one or two Purple Hearts.

Here was John Nash’s retirement photo from 2007.


This photo clearly has a single Purple Heart award with no star which would designate a second award. If he were wounded on 24 Sept 1983 as well as 23 Oct 1983 he would have two awards.

. . . . .


The following represents a timeline of articles, blogs, photos and postings on the internet in regard to Nash’s claims and statements as to being wounded in Beirut, Lebanon. To summarize, Cpl John Nash had been impacted by a 122 mm rocket attack roughly one month before the Marine Barracks BLT bombing on 23 Oct 1983. He had claimed that his shoulder was injured in this attack. Over 20 years later, he successfully sought and was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in Sept 1983. Originally, as this timeline shows, there were claims of no injuries on 23 Oct 1983, then eventually stronger claims of injuries to his shoulder in the 23 Oct 1983 bombing. This timeline serves as an aide to determine whether Nash was the recipient of two Purple Hearts from Lebanon, or were there one or two shoulder injuries? Further, is an impression left with people that the Purple Heart was awarded for 23 October 1983 vs. September 1983?

Article:  Pontiac family feels joy and sorrow as Marine son returns from Lebanon
Date: December 09, 1983
REF: Lansing State Journal (Lansing, MI) * Fri 09 Dec 1983 * Page 3
Significance: One of the earliest interviews of Nash. Father implies there were no injuries to John. In addition, no mention of wounds or injuries to John.


Article:  Welcome home, Corporal!
Date: December 23, 1983
REF: Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI) * Fri 23 Dec 1983 * Page 42
Significance: One of the earliest interviews of Nash, states he was “across the street sleeping when the bomb exploded.”  No mention of injuries.


Posted Email comments from John Nash
Date: September 28, 1987 – (then) GySgt John W. Nash
Significance: Establishes exact units and deployments in Beirut, Lebanon, characterizes himself as a “survivor”

* My name is Gysgt John W Nash.

* I was there during the 23 October bombing

* I was with MSSG-24, 22nd MAU during the October 23rd Bombing.

* I feel very fortunate to have survived the Beirut tradgedy [sic] that struck us on Oct 23rd, 1983.

[NOTE: It would have been 24th MAU vs. 22 MAU]

(excerpts, more on link)

Article:  Marine recalls horror of bombing
Date: February 14, 2001 – By Cpl. Mike Vrabel
Significance: Establishes Nash as being on the first floor of BLT building. No mention of Sept 1983 122mm rocket attack.

After landing in Lebanon during an unopposed amphibious landing, Nash shacked up in the same concrete building as the rest of the MAU. This nondescript, windowless building was one of the few left standing from the civil war. This building, although devoid of running water, electricity and other amenities, served as the Marines’ home for more than a year.

Then, later…

For Nash, who was just waking up on the first floor when the explosion took and altered lives, the sound stands out in his mind.
“Nothing I can say can explain how loud it was,” Nash told his audience.
Nash survived the blast. As one of few left alive, his mission immediately changed to helping find and evacuate bodies of his friends and fellow warriors.

Book:  So Damn Insane
Date: ~ 2003 – No Date Applicable – Author: Robert Seamus Walsh
Significance: This book is fiction, but he proposes writing another book — a biography of John Wayne Nash. Characterized as “one of few survivors of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut Lebanon.”


Article:  Beirut survivor keeps in touch
Date: Oct 09, 2003 – Jacksonville Daily News (Jacksonville, NC) – Story by Eric Steinkopff
Significance: Establishes job at communications center in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983. No mention of Sept 1983 122mm rocket attack or that of being wounded.

Two decades ago, John Nash was a 19-year-old Marine Corps corporal who specialized in processing messages. One of his jobs was keeping the communication center open for the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit stationed at the Beirut International Airport terminal.

Then, later…

Nash was a communications specialist in Beirut the day the Marine barracks was bombed by terrorists. The 24th Marine Amphibious Unit included a reinforced version of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment from April to December 1983. They were there on a peacekeeping mission.

Article:  Fallen, not forgotten
Date: October 19, 2003 – Reporter: Trista Talton
Significance: Nash claims “He and the corporal he was talking with that morning were blown across the building.”

Newscast:  NBC Nightly News (overview description)
Date: October 23, 2003 – Reporter: Tom Brokaw
Significance: Nash claims he was inside the US Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon

Newscast:  NBC News  (transcript)
Date: October 23, 2003 – In Their Own Words: 20 Years Later: Beirut Bombing Remembered
Significance: “He [John Wayne Nash] was a young Marine who was inside the building when it was blown up. Almost all of his colleagues died.”

Article:  They Came in Peace (American Legion Magazine)
Date: October 2003 – Author: Tom Griggs
Significance: Establishes Nash at MSSG vs. BLT (same author as before)


Article:  Purple Heart received 21 years later
Date: Oct 30, 2004 – Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler – Story by Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier
Significance: Establishes tent, shower attack, 122mm rocket, wounds one month before bombing. Also, makes mention of being on the first floor of BLT.

“One night I was taking a shower in a tent that was more than a block and a half away from the (Battalion Landing Team, 1st Bn., 8th Marine Regiment) barracks,” said Nash, who’s the deputy director of the SNCOA. “(Before I) finished washing the soap from my body, a 122 mm rocket impacted the side of the tent.”

The pressure of the blast knocked the Pontiac, Mich., native across the tent where he lay for several minutes before [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] picked him up and took him to a corpsman, Nash explained. [REDACTED] was a staff sergeant and [REDACTED] was a lance corporal at the time. Nash sustained cuts and bruises on his left shoulder and leg.

The incident occurred one month prior to the infamous Beirut bombing on Oct. 23, 1983, when a suicide bomber, armed with a truck carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives, crashed through the gates and entered the lobby of the Marine barracks. The explosion took the lives of 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers and wounded more than 100 others with the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit.

Nash was on the first floor and was fortunate that he did not sustain serious injuries.

Three things of note about this article.  One is that the name of Nash’s commanding officer in Beirut was misspelled.  Two is that it seemed strange the level of detail provided about Nash’s body being lathered up in soap. Not sure that level of detail was needed but it was provided nonetheless. Then, three – the detail about a 122 mm rocket. How did they know it was a 122 mm rocket vs. a mortar round?  Just an observation but there seemed to be a strange effort to provide extreme detail about some things but other details were fuzzy – i.e. the name of the commanding officer being misspelled. 

Article:  Brothers-in-arms: ‘They came in peace’
Date: October 17, 2005 – Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola * Marine Corps News
Significance: “Nash was one of the few trapped inside who was able to dig themselves out of the rubble.”

Article:  Retiring Marine Remembers Beirut
Date: Thursday, February 28, 2008 – Lance Cpl. Katie Mathison
Significance: “Only two survivors in the area.” and “Buried alive.”

‘‘It was a four-story building that crumbled like a toothpick,” Nash said. ‘‘There was no time for the Marines to react, take cover or protect themselves.”

It was only by sheer luck Nash survived the bombing mostly unharmed.

‘‘I was awake lying in my cot,” he said. ‘‘I was a corporal, at the time, talking to the corporal next to me. We were discussing whether we should get up and go get some chow or just lie there. Had we gotten up for chow, we would have died. We were the only two survivors in the area.”

For Nash this was just the beginning, he had been buried alive. After he and the other corporal dug themselves out, they began searching for clothes, weapons and ammunition, he said. They were unsure of what had happened.

Also, one of the retirement photos in this article shows a single award of the Purple Heart vs. two awards which would be designated by an star.


Article:  ‘No Time to Think’: Survivors remember Beirut Bombing
Date: October 21, 2008 – Jennifer Hlad – Jacksonville Daily News
Significance: Nash claims he was on the first floor of the BLT HQ building.  Nash also claims he had a concussion and shoulder injuries from Marine Barracks BLT blast.

nash-no time to think

Article:  In Their Own Words, The Marines and Sailors who were there
Date: November 16, 2008 – Ed Marek
Significance: Eight years later, Nash claims concussion and shoulder injuries from Marine Barracks BLT blast.


Article:  Security Problems Uncovered at US Bases in Iraq
Date: Published April 26, 2009 – Associated Press
Significance: Nash as contractor in Iraq. Attorney Thomas Fay also represented Nash in the Marine Barracks bombing lawsuit.

The commission also voiced alarm at the abrupt exit from Iraq of Triple Canopy’s on-site manager at Base Delta, John Wayne Nash. Dickson and other commission staff on a fact-finding trip to Iraq met with Nash on April 5 and he confirmed the problems existed.

A day later, they learned from an officer at Base Delta that Nash had been told by his superiors to leave the country.

Commission staff said it appeared that Nash had been fired for talking to the commission. “We talked with him one day and he was leaving the country five days later,” Dickson said.

Reached at his home in Jacksonville, N.C., Nash, a retired Marine Corps master gunnery sergeant, referred questions to his lawyer in Washington. In a brief note to the AP, the lawyer, Thomas Fay, would only say that he is representing Nash “in connection with the circumstances surrounding his departure from Iraq as an employee of Triple Canopy.”

Menches, Triple Canopy’s spokeswoman, said Nash is still employed by the company and is currently home on a regular rotation.

Blog Comment:
Date: August 24, 2011 – Old Colonel
Significance: Third party hearsay, but sounds like a USMC Colonel repeating a story from Nash. If not, why would “Old Colonel” be under this impression?


(NOTE: “Old Colonel” was contacted about this. More on this exchange later.)

Lawsuit Brief:  Davis v. Islamic Republic of Iran
Filed: March 30th, 2012
Status: Precedential
Docket Number: Civil Action No. 2007-1302
Judges: Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth


Article:  Echoes from Beirut: Ret. Master Gunnery Sgt. John Nash
Date: October 23, 2013 – Story by Katie Mathison
Significance: “It was only by sheer luck Nash survived the bombing mostly unharmed.” and “For Nash this was just the beginning; he had been buried alive.”echos-from-beirut

Article:  Blessed are the peacemakers
Date: October 23, 2013 – T.E. Griggs
Significance: Recent article, and clearly establishes Nash as 200 yards north of the BLT (100 yards to MAU HQ, then another 100 yards north from that). This article says Nash was at MSSG-24 vs. the BLT. MSSG-24 was 200-400 yards away from the BLT.

Another 100 yards north, at the MAU Service Support Group, Cpl. John Wayne Nash was lying on his cot, talking to Cpl. Bertrand Hill about going to chow at the BLT. They decided against it.

Then, later…

And from the Support Group, Nash and Hill ran to the BLT and into the smoke and dust to help the wounded, assisting many to the aid station.

“Within no time, the clinic was full of injured Marines and sailors. Many of them did not make it at all to the MSSG and died along the way,” recounted Nash, who later served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. “The injuries were unbelievable. Each time I assisted one of them, I was covered with their blood. This was without a doubt a vision that will live with me forever.”

(NOTE: The author was contacted about this. More on this exchange later.)

. . . . .


The BLT HQ building was distinctly different than the MSSG-24 HQ building. For one thing, the BLT HQ building was four stories high and the MSSG-24 building was only one story.


nash-mssg-hqThe United States Multinational Peacekeeping Force had many buildings that it occupied as part of a compound.  The Battalion Landing Team headquarters (BLT HQ) building was just one of these buildings.  As you can see from the following diagram, the 24th Marine Amphibious headquarters (MAU HQ) building was 100 – 150 yards from the BLT. Then, the Marine Service Support Group headquarters (MSSG HQ) was another 100-150 yards beyond the MAU HQ.

In the following scaled diagram, the BLT is green, the MAU HQ is red and the MSSG HQ is blue.


The articles above place Nash at MSSG-24 and at the BLT on the morning of 23 Oct 1983.  Which was it?  Where was he that morning?  How could the articles’ authors be so specific yet get it so wrong?

If John Nash’s unit was MSSG-24, what reason would he have to be sleeping at the BLT HQ building vs. the MSSG-24 HQ building?  Mess duty?  Cross assigned?  Late night card game with friends?

You may be asking – what difference does it make?  Admittedly, it does sound like splitting hairs where someone slept on the morning of the 23rd of Oct 1983.  People that were in the BLT HQ building when it was bombed were included on the lawsuit against Iran. In the case of Nash and his family this difference amounts to a judgement in money well over $32 million dollars so the distinction is extremely important.

Maybe the people taking sworn statements, a deposition, did not have a visualization of the MNF compound area and folded all of the buildings into a compound that was bombed so never really made a distinction?  Who knows?

. . . . .


In the articles above, there is reference made to Nash’s left shoulder being injured in both the Sept 1983 rocket attack and the 23 Oct 1983 Marine Barracks (BLT) bombing.  Yet, why does Nash only have one Purple Heart awarded?  It seems he would rate two Purple Hearts.


It appears Nash had some encouragement by his peers to get a Purple Heart awarded for the Sept 1983 shower attack.  Does Nash feel reluctance to get a second award for the 23 Oct 1983 BLT HQ bombing, or were his wounds not sufficient enough to rate one?  How could he escape wounds if he was “buried alive” for 30-40 minutes?  How could he escape wounds since by one person’s account that worked closely with him “John was a young Marine crushed in that dreadful explosion with concrete beams and rubble pinning him for some 18 hours while his life ebbed slowly away?”

It is difficult to imagine how John Nash could escape without injury on 23 Oct 1983, but the article titled “In Their Own Words, the Marines and Sailors who were there” stated that “He suffered a concussion and shoulder injuries.”  Wouldn’t those injuries be significant enough to rate a Purple Heart?

If John Wayne Nash’s injuries on 23 Oct 1983 rate a second Purple Heart, shouldn’t he be encouraged to get a second award?

Although not the greatest quality, here are some newspaper photos of John Nash’s left shoulder and arm area two months after the bombing.  If he sustained a shoulder injury along with cuts and bruises it is difficult to make out in the photo, but to be fair that may be related to the poor quality.  Also, he is leaning on the table using his left arm and shoulder along with two photos of him dancing.  Although not conclusive, the injuries that he claimed did not seem to limit him physically to a great extent nor do they appear disfiguring.


Below are more recent photos of Nash’s shoulder.  Although not conclusive, there does not appear to be scar tissue on the top, front or side of the shoulder.  Perhaps it was not an external injury?  The left shoulder is the one that was mentioned as being injured on both 24 Sept 1983 and 23 Oct 1983.  Again, cannot draw any conclusions but we included these photos for the sake of adding as much information as possible.


. . . . .


What about Nash’s roommate – Bertrand Hill?  Was Hill also buried alive for 30-40 minutes and lucky enough to escape uninjured?  Shouldn’t he also rate a Purple Heart and compensation?  Where was Hill sleeping that morning – the BLT HQ or MSSG-24 HQ?

(NOTE: Efforts have been made to reach out to Bertrand Hill and someone is awaiting word back from him. We will update this blog with new information once we hear back from him.)

. . . . .


The two questions raised at the beginning remain unanswered:

  1. Was John Wayne Nash sleeping in the BLT on the morning of 23 Oct 1983 when the bombing occurred?
  2. Was John Wayne Nash wounded on 23 Oct 1983 as a result of the bombing and if so, to what extent?

. . . . .

There were a lot of inconsistencies and questions surrounding this situation so John Wayne Nash’s official military records were requested through the Freedom of Information Act.

. . . . .



Records show overlapping dates for the Armed Forces Expeditionary medal and the Marine Corps Expeditionary medal during his deployment in 1983.  The Armed Forces Expeditionary medal was awarded to BLT 3/8 and supporting elements during the March 84-Aug 84 deployment which records show Nash was never deployed with.  He rates the Marine Corps Expeditionary medal but not both for the time periods stated.


The dates for the Purple Heart show it was for an incident a month prior to the bombing although not approved until 21 years later.  The dates for a Combat Action Ribbon are inconsistent with a Beirut deployment but the award does appear properly on his first DD-214.

nash-date-of-phHighlighted is the deployment to Beirut.  The following entry of 840530 to 850530 shows the 22 MAU.  The 24th MAU consisting of BLT 3/8 and supporting elements were deployed to Beirut during the bulk of that time.  His subsequent deployment with BLT 3/8 which briefly passed off the shores of Beirut was after the 24th MAU had completely withdrawn from Beirut.



. . . . .


usmc-foia dod-mdc

The FOIA results establish two very important things:
1) John Wayne Nash’s unit was MSSG-24 Communications – no cross assignment.
2) John Wayne Nash had one Purple Heart awarded and this was for the 24 Sept 1983 shower attack – there was no award for the 23 Oct 1983 Marine Barracks BLT bombing.

He was also an Admin Chief.  Why would someone with the expertise and opportunity to correct inconsistencies not fix their own records?

Also of note – Nash’s entire chronological record of assignments is too pristine. They are all in the same format and style for almost 20 years beginning in 1982.  It appears as if they were completely typed over and had the original pages replaced.  This could be a common thing, so not suggesting anything nefarious, but if there was care taken to ensure the records were perfect why was this care not extended to the awards?

. . . . .


This entire case started out as an attempt at historical documentation of Purple Heart awards for Beirut 1982-1984.  There was a sincere effort to properly record Nash’s receipt of the Purple Heart for 23 Oct 1983.  It was only through inquiry that inconsistencies arose which were followed by questions.  When these interviews were conducted it was a sincere attempt to discover the bomb’s blast effect not only at the BLT HQ area, but at MSSG-24 and MAU HQ.

MSSG-24 Unit Members

Several members of MSSG-24 were interviewed and they estimate that the MSSG-24 Comm HQ was anywhere from 200-400 yards away from the BLT HQ building which was where the explosion took place. One individual was walking around the area of MSSG-24 and was blown off his feet and hit the ground. This individual estimated that MSSG-24 was 400 yards away. The lowest claim was 200 yards away from the articles above. The scale map shows the MSSG HQ to be about 300 yards away from BLT HQ. The 300 yard estimate was in line with most all interviews of platoon members.

Several members of MSSG-24 describe a one story building and tents where men had sleeping quarters.  They describe some tent poles snapping with dust and debris everywhere.  No eardrum breakage as was the case with men closer to the blast. One sandbagged wall that faced the blast was knocked over.

They were all in agreement that all MSSG-24 Comm members were billeted at MSSG-24 HQ except for those who had radio watch, which would have been on board the USS El Paso stationed off shore of Beirut. On the day of the bombing the USS El Paso was on its way to a liberty call so no one was on radio watch . However, a few from the platoon were on board for the liberty call.

They could not account for any reason a member of MSSG-24 Comm would be sleeping at the BLT HQ.  There were several that said there would be no reason for anyone sleeping at the BLT HQ, or away from MSSG-24 other than duty or liberty aboard the USS El Paso.

The BLT HQ building had a mess hall in the basement, so men from other units could walk there and have chow.  Having chow there or having mess duty is not a possibility as Nash provided a story where he and his roommate lay awake in their cots and contemplated going to chow but decided against it.

The MSSG-24 Comm interviewees said that there were no wounded other than reading about John Nash hitting his head and having a concussion, but they could not confirm that first hand.

One interviewee from MSSG-24 said that on the morning of the BLT HQ bombing that “Nash was at the MSSG in his rack at the time.”

Communications Centers

Based on interviews, there was no one “Comm Building”, at least not while 24 MAU was there. HQ 24 MAU comm section worked out of the MAU HQ building. There was a large tractor trailer type shipping container located directly behind the MAU HQ that contained the teletype machines and classified material. They called it the comm center van. The comm center for the BLT was inside the BLT HQ building. While 24th MAU was there, there was no single building that was dedicated to communications.


As far as the MSSG 24th Comm guys – many were from 8th Comm Battalion . They worked out of the MSSG Building. All units ashore including HMM 162 had their own set ups.


Based on the FOIA results and interviews of unit members, in addition to this photo posted by John Nash…


… and his own statement…

“I was with MSSG-24, 22nd MAU during the October 23rd Bombing.”
(NOTE: “22nd MAU” should have been “24th MAU”.  Nash was with
22nd MAU a year later so may have misspoken.)


… all point to the fact that John Nash was with MSSG-24 Comm at the time of the bombing. This means he would have been billeted (lodged) at MSSG-24 HQ.

Then, based on interviews, there would be no reason for Nash to be billeted at the BLT HQ building.

Roommate – Bertrand Hill

As mentioned, efforts have been made to reach out to Bertrand Hill – Nash’s roommate on the morning of 23 Oct 1983.  We are awaiting someone to hear word back from him. We will update this blog with new information once we hear back from him.

If Cpl Bertrand Hill was just a few feet away from Cpl John Nash and both men were buried alive, wouldn’t Hill rate a similar compensation as Nash?  Doesn’t Bertrand Hill and his family also deserve compensation if Nash and his family are included?

Did John Nash or his lawyers make any attempt to locate Bertrand Hill and advise him of a potential settlement in a lawsuit against Iran?  Wouldn’t Bertrand Hill’s account of the morning of 23 Oct 1983 be valuable since he was at the very least a witness to what happened to Nash, or would Hill’s version of events prove to be uncomfortable with the narrative that Nash already put out?

They say that football is a game of inches but apparently this applies in lawsuits against terrorism since the few inches that Bertrand Hill slept from John Nash could have made a difference of over $32 million dollars.

It appears as if Cpl Bertrand Hill was cut out of the deal by either lack of due diligence or intentional omission.  Would Bertrand Hill be surprised by Nash’s story?  We hope to soon find out since it wasn’t that difficult to locate him.

Author – T.E. Griggs / Tom Griggs

T.E. Griggs is the author who wrote “Blessed are the peacemakers” and “They Came in Peace (American Legion Magazine)“.  Griggs was contacted and asked about John Nash’s claim that he was at MSSG-24 on October 23 1983, the morning of the bombing.

The two articles are basically the same and derived from the same interviews. Griggs was a Marine and spent the summer of 1983 as the 24th MAU public affairs chief in Beirut.

After referencing his notes, Griggs said that he is supremely confident that he quoted John Nash correctly from his interview with him.

By his own words, John Nash is established as being in a cot at MSSG, at least 200 yards north of the BLT, if not more.

If true, why is John Nash quoted in other articles as being on the first floor of the BLT?

Old Colonel

A blogger by the handle “Old Colonel” claimed that his Deputy, John Nash, “was a young Marine crushed in that dreadful explosion with concrete beams and rubble pinning him for some 18 hours while his life ebbed slowly away.”


“Old Colonel” was contacted through the blog and an exchange took place over several months.

It was pointed out that the last living survivor was pulled from the rubble around noon on the day of the bombing – around 6 hours later.  The claim of 18 hours could not possibly be true.  “Old Colonel” backed off his statement and conceded that he may have gotten the length of time wrong.

He was asked if Nash told him that he was in the BLT HQ building when it was bombed.

Oddly, he cited the fact that Nash was on the lawsuit against Iran and was soon due for a payout as proof that the story is true. He also said that Nash was very quiet and very religious and he has never known Nash to lie.

Known to lie?  Why would he say that?  It was not suggested to “Old Colonel” that Nash lied.  The question was whether Nash told “Old Colonel” that he was in the BLT when it was bombed or if “Old Colonel” assumed that he was in the BLT when it was bombed.

Then, it was put forth to “Old Colonel” that there was an awareness that John Nash was awarded the Purple Heart.  He was asked if Nash told him the Purple Heart was awarded as a result of the Marine Barracks bombing on 23 Oct 1983 or another event?

He responded that the Purple Heart was for the Barracks bombing.  He indicated that Nash was still undergoing treatment for both physical injuries and PTSD. This was when they were together in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Nash was a contractor at the time and had retired from the military.

Then engagement continued and “Old Colonel” expressed disbelief that the person was talking about the same John Nash.  Article links above were presented to “Old Colonel”.

Although he never directly stated that Nash told him he was in the BLT HQ building when it was bombed, he finally thanked the individual and said “Thanks for the ‘Rest of the Story’ as Paul Harvey would say.

“Old Colonel” was pressed again as to whether Nash told him he was in the BLT HQ building when it was bombed or did he assume that Nash was.  A suggestion was made to “Old Colonel” that sometimes questions can be answered in a way that would be truthful, but not take responsibility for assumptions and correct the record.

“Old Colonel” responded: “Indeed, perhaps truthful, but misleading and, from my perspective, dishonest of him. Sad”.


The bomb that struck the Marine Barracks in Beirut Lebanon on 23 Oct 1983 was estimated by the FBI to be over 20,000 lbs worth of explosives.  The four story building pancaked down on top of the first floor and basement.

Nash’s injuries are not consistent with him being on the first floor of the BLT HQ.  Depending on which account that you look at, he would have been buried by far more than dust.

He also would have had ear drum breakage, which was quite common to men in the immediate blast vicinity.

By Nash’s account in Davis v. The Republic of Iran, he was “covered in cuts and bruises by the blast, and coated in gray dust and debris from the building”.  If three additional floors were above him, how could he manage to dig himself out and help others without receiving significant injuries that would preclude him from doing so?


It is difficult to determine what John Nash provided as part of his sworn testimony, a deposition, as to whether he was in the BLT HQ building on the morning of 23 Oct 1983. One of the lawyers handling his case said that Nash would have to give written consent to allow his deposition to be read by an outside party.  The reasonable assumption is that Nash did not give his written consent because there was no followup to the request for his deposition.

It is prudent to assume that John Nash was truthful in a sworn legal statement. However, carefully worded truthful statements can lead others to fill in the blanks with imagination.

What about others on the same class action lawsuit?  Wouldn’t they have a right to read the deposition to determine if there is no vulnerability in the entire case?  Stated another way – if there were statements or implications that John Nash was on the first floor of the BLT when it was blown up and that is not true, wouldn’t that undermine the credibility of the entire case?

Did the lawyers have a understanding or visualization of the MNF compound in Beirut in order to make a distinction who should be included in the lawsuit?  Perhaps if someone was just “there” in Beirut there was no distinction made as to whether they were actually in the BLT HQ building?

If Nash was included in the lawsuit strictly based on his participation in SAR (Search and Recovery), why would his entire family also be included on the case?  Why didn’t others that were not physically wounded and participated in SAR have their families included in the compensation?  We don’t know, but this seems extraordinary.  This leads many in the Beirut community to question why there was an exception made for John Nash and his family.

Asked another way – if John Nash was not in the building during the bombing shouldn’t all the families of Marines and Sailors that helped during the recovery be included in the settlement?

What was the reason that John Nash and his entire family have been singled out to receive millions of dollars while others that were more severely wounded or lost loved ones are completely left out in the cold?

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John Wayne Nash has a conflict in the narrative of what happened to him on Sunday morning, 23 Oct 1983 – the day of the Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut Lebanon.

In a best case scenario, Nash should explain why there were two different accounts in the articles written about him. Namely, some reference him as being over at MSSG-24 HQ while others referencing him being at the bombed BLT HQ.

In a worse case scenario, the lawyers and others may be under the strong impression that John Nash was in the BLT HQ building when it was bombed on 23 Oct 1983 and as a result, he and his family are earmarked to receive millions of dollars in compensation.  Even if it was an innocent assumption, that people leading the case owe it to the rest of the family next-of-kin and wounded veterans to be transparent about Nash’s situation.

Perhaps someone on the lawsuit can obtain Nash’s deposition and make sure it accurately reflects events of the morning of 23 Oct 1983?

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Many of the printed claims about John Wayne Nash  being wounded on 23 Oct 1983 are not supported by his official records, records of those wounded on that day, or accounts of Beirut veterans we have interviewed.  John Wayne Nash served with honor and obvious distinction during his career and is a Beirut veteran.  We hope an honest attempt is made to clear up the historical record.  The veterans and family members affected by the Beirut tragedy are owed both accuracy and transparency.

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thisainthell-nashThis Ain’t Hell:

10 thoughts on “John Wayne Nash – First Floor Survivor of 1983 Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut

  1. […] I don’t usually copy and paste an entire story from our partners, but I will this time because of the intricacies of the story – too many things that I could get wrong in the details. This is from Military Phonies; […]

  2. Maj Robert T. Jordan, USMC (Retired), DoD/Marine Corps spokesman, 24 MAU ( Aug 16-Nov 30, 1983) says:

    It is sad to see a Marine with such a distinguished career to allegedly distorted his service to receive awards that he may not deserve. I was one of the first officers at the scene of the bombing. There were several Marines standing in the rubble who had survived the blast. We began collecting the survivors and transport them north to MSSG for medical care. The first floor and an the basement were filled with rubble.

    The Messhall had been on the first floor. I elected not to go to chow that morning because I was going to celebrate the French Foreign Legion Parachute Company’s birthday. Chaplain Danny Wheeler was the last survivor pulled out of the rubble. No one else was found alive after he was pulled out. I doubt that anyone sleeping on the first floor could have survived.

    I know that my wife (a Beirut widow) and I have been approached over the years to add our names to those who seek compensation from the Iran case. We have refused to do so. But there is pressure to get as many as possible.

    • Shay McNeal says:


      I am touched by your comment. However, I must say that I feel you and your widowed wife should become a part of the settlement. While yours is a potentially laudable stand, I would like to comment so that you might consider a more noble endeavor. What I have to say might be helpful if you revisit your thought process regarding the Iranian resolution.

      The countries of Iran, Syria and the terror exporters Hezbollah are still – these many years later – making our world a very unsafe place to live, school our children, safely attend religious services in sanctuary’s for a prayerful moment. I do understand you do not want to appear to profit off this horrifying event but I can only think of how you could do so much good with the financial compensation for your pain and suffering as well as that of your wife’s children – if she has any from her husband.

      Only one example – but you could set up and administer school funds for the families of other soldiers who have been killed or wounded in the line of duty. I offer this because I have come to the conclusion that the failure to punish those who are evil by nature only encourages a continued behavior that spreads more evil. Unfortunately, we can not slap them in the face, square off for a duel or any other satisfying punitive action that will send a message from civilized people who have been pushed to anger. Even if we could extract that kind of satisfaction the real message that we could send would be about humane behavior. All this is to say, I believe what you can do is spend the money of these evil-doers to help bring some joy to good people who have been so painfully left behind. Please, do not back away from this notion as there are honest, earnest, well-meaning folks who could help you in this kind of endeavor.

      I am surprised that I am writing this email but I found this site as I am a journalist and my “beat” – if you will – is ISIS, Russia, military affairs and the Intelligence community. I was touched by the bombing as my partner of 10 years was the brother of one of the bombing victims. I know the toll it must have taken on his wife and children. I also I saw and lived with the toll it took on my companion as we were together for seven more years after the events of October 23rd 1983. His brother’s death haunted him and he even thought, from time to time, that he could smell the cigarette smoke of his brother’s cigarettes. His brother’s death was wrapped in guilt as well. His mother had encouraged conflict between his brother and his brother’s family. Everything was made more difficult because of a dysfunctional relationship his mother stirred. I disagreed with her behavior and often encountered conflict when I attempted to intervene. Ultimately we parted, certainly not just because of the bombing and the toll it took on us, but the pain and anger he struggled with all the time became a constant in the background of our relationship. He held the government and the president responsible for his brother’s early demise. He felt his brother was brilliant and their conversations about his brother’s dream of joining the FBI or CIA burned in his psyche as he often recalled his conversations before his brother deployed. I know he went through his own hell but I am sure nothing like his brother’s wife and children.It was hard very hard for anyone touched by the horrifying events of that day.

      As for me and how it defined me, we found our own way away from each other but, I made a decision I would leave my profession of advertising agency owner and political consultant and devote my efforts to educate Americans about terrorism and what we must understand about how it can touch anyone’s life at anytime which I do almost all the time in each and every column I write.

      I urge you to consider what I am sharing with you and to reconsider how you can help others who will have to travel your road if you allow the monsters who touched your life not to have to pay.

      If you would like to reach out to me by all means do so. I can be reached at and I live part-time in Virginia.

      Very best personal regards,

      Shay McNeal

      • Bob Jordan has spent most of his life dedicated to Beirut veterans. I can think of no other person that has done so much for so many for so long. His reputation within the Beirut community of veterans is beyond reproach.

        Google is your friend here. If you want a first hand account of what happened on the morning of 23 Oct 1983, Bob Jordan is the go to man.

        He has helped, even carried the cause, of Beirut veterans for decades. He has selflessly done so without taking money from Iran. There are many within the community that respect and agree with his decision.

  3. Marty Schnoor, MSgt USMC retired. (1978-1998) says:

    Thank you for your service sir, I too am perplexed to see actions like this. The day, 13 October 1978 (U.S. Navy’s birthday) that I earned the title of United States Marine. That ranks up there with all of the greatest memories for me. I served 20 years in the Corps and Thank God, never saw combat action. I have great respect for those who have, whether a Private or a General. I couldn’t imagine the idea of embellishing my service as being a Marine is enough. I could, as a retired MSgt learn a lot sitting at the feet of Privates, PFCs, LCpls and Cpls. I have deep respect for you all and for your families. God bless us all and may every Marine have someone(s) to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
    Semper Fi
    Marty Schnoor

  4. Paul Davenport COL USMC (Ret) aka Old Colonel says:

    I suggest the author(s) of this site ask MGySgt Nash DIRECTLY. You will find your “FACTS” are in error. Ask him the five questions personally! I believe the author of this screed misled me whenn we previously corresponded.

    I have no further comment and will not reply to emails or calls.

    • Your support of John Nash is admirable, but you have not provided specifics. What “FACTS” are in error? What are the five questions that you refer to? The general nature of your post makes it hard to give a specific response.

      This case was presented over 4 months ago. Where was Nash’s response? Not one person from Nash’s unit came forward and backed up his story that he was at the BLT. In fact, the confirmation that we received from unit members was just the opposite.

      How is it that a “young Marine crushed in that dreadful explosion with concrete beams and rubble pinning him for some 18 hours while his life ebbed slowly away” escape without a scratch and received no Purple Heart award? Is that not misleading?

      How is it that the story he gave to various newspapers changed over the years? Some early reports placing him at MSSG-24 and later reports placing him at the BLT? These buildings were several hundred yards apart.

      I would like to point out that “Old Colonel” was never identified by name in this post. His initial post, which is probably still out on the forum unchallenged, and the exchange that followed, were not central to this case. It was added to establish a pattern.

    • Dave Hardin says:

      I tried to contact Nash, he is as quiet as a church mouse. I believe you will find the “FACTS” that Nash has given you will turn out to be full of holes. Nash does not participate in any Beirut Group that I know of. Nash does not communicate with other Beirut veterans that I know of. Nash does not have 1 person that will step forward and support his version of events. Not one Marine.

      He fell down in the shower because something went ‘boom’ near him. Best I knew any injury he had was from falling down while soaped up in the shower. There are also published stories that he was involved in the bombing directly. No he was not. He never corrected those false accounts that I have ever heard.

      Calling yourself a retired Colonel of Marines and posting your hit and run comment shows that you lack the intestinal fortitude to stand behind your words. I think Nash has embellished his account for decades…cashing in on his embellishments should be condemned.

      Myself and many other Beirut veterans have been waiting for Nash to show some spine and correctly address the rest of us. All any of us hear is the sound of crickets in the dark. Paul, I suggest you stand behind your words or understand they become the baseless pandering of the gutless.

  5. Bryon Myers says:

    I worked with Paul Davenport and John Nash on the USACE contract in Afghanistan. This was for Global Integrated Security for RSSS Operation Argos. Incidentally, I also crossed paths with Nash back in 2006 at Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

    John Nash embezzled quite a bit of money from our company while he was there as Director of Ops for USACE (TAS). This was common knowledge and I can provide names of former colleagues who can back me on this.

    As for Paul Davenport, “Old Colonel”, if he wasn’t in on the embezzling operation, then he at least knew that John was doing it. Paul treated me plenty well but it saddens me that I was subordinate to scumbags who were protecting each other.

    Anyone reading this, feel free to contact me and I’ll disclose more.

  6. Pauline Shipp says:

    Not a surprise as to a phony. Not a surprise as to lawyers not fully looking into it, depending on which lawyers. I had to show proof of being a wife, marriage, birth, etc, my son also. However we have 2 men always in the Daily News here also, claiming to have been there as well, one saying “these men were my men”, a Navy corpsman, and the other a low rank Marine. Now I find this Navy man’s claim of PTSD from being in the “library” when the bombing occurred, from another neighbor and newspaper accounts. And how he is looking into a benefit…When will it end?? When big money is part of the big picture, there will always be military phonies claiming to be there. Fact is, stories have changed, from being on a ladder climbing to a roof, to already being on the roof, when blown off, as told by the Marine. And as for the benefit, the lawyers were able to apply for us to a State Sponsored Terrorist Fund that was established, as we had federal awards, but did not. We only received partial claims from their direct lawsuit. Seeing relatives come out of the woodwork that couldn’t even give your husband a couple of bucks towards sneakers when his pay got messed up in Beirut…and now getting monies, only adds to the anger of the picture of phoniness some of us have come to see. It has been an eye-awakening journey.

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