Shuffles was a man who lived in a broom
closet inside the BLT HQ, the building that was blown up on October 23,
1983. He sold candy, cookies and soda to the Marines out of the closet
in which he lived. It was located under the staircase.
Shuffles was a very humble man who would
always stop to chat. Even in his broken English he always managed to
convey his thoughts. His little grandson was usually in tow as he
"shuffled" his way along the dirt roads around the compound selling his
sweets out of a cart.
Usually dressed in rags, he came to symbolize
the reason that we felt we were in Lebanon. To help bring a stability
of peace to this war torn region of the world. Shuffles was no powerful
politican or head of state. He wasn't a millionaire businessman who was
only glad to see us protect his personal interests. He was a kind,
grateful, respectful and gentle man.
His was a face lined with pain. Yet one who
would always greet you with a smile We recall how poor his eyesight was.
He often had to hold the money within a couple of inches of his eyes to
see what you were giving him. Something about him was special. He has
always been a part of our Beirut memories all these years.
We always wondered what happened to Shuffles. Rumor had it he died in the bombing.
Our friend, Shuffles, came to represent the
human side of the whole tense, confused situation that we commonly refer
to as "Beirut". In the final analysis, we like to think we did it for
those like himself and his grandchildren.
We came in peace.
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or
acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he
sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing with each other from a
million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a
current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and
Let no one be discouraged by the belief
that there is nothing one man or one woman can do about the enormous
array of the world's ills -- against misery and ignorance, injustice and
violence...Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each
of us can change a small portion of events and the total of all those
acts will be written the history of this generation."
—Robert Francis Kennedy
Major Joe Jacobs (USMC, Ret.) adds:
Shuffles did indeed die in the bombing. He
was a disabled veteran of the earlier civil war. He also remembered the
1958 and 1965 Marine interventions in Beirut.
After we sent all the bodies to Germany, they
sent us (MAU HQ) a message stating they had a body who could not be a
Marine. The body was burned beyond recognition but was of an elderly
male with a replacement knee or hip (I can't remember which). We could
only conclude that it was indeed Shuffles and the repairs to his leg
caused the characteristic gait inspiring his name.
He was also a loyal Lebanese in that, when he
was pensioned off by their gov't he was given a job as a security guard
/ info desk guy in the civil aviation administration building. Remember
this what the BLT HQ was before it was the BLT HQ! Shuffles was still
receiving a fraction (very small) of his pension. He therefore felt
obligated to come to work every day and that's how he came to be there
in the first place. They candy stand was a small enterprise he operated
because he survived on the $ and he was grateful for the Marine
Hope this helps clarify his history.
Major, USMC, Ret.
1Lt, HQ, 24 MAU, 1983
*This page first appeared on the Beirut
Marines website, which is not in operation at this time. We gratefully
thank them for this tribute to Shuffles.