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W.Va. woman urges not to let terrorists win war of fear

December 30, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

INWOOD, W.Va. - While many people are gearing up to celebrate the new year, others are afraid to stray far from home and some celebrations have been canceled because of fears of terrorist attacks.

That fear is what scares Inwood resident Tonya Robertson.

Robertson knows the impact of terrorism firsthand and doesn't want to see it drive others to change the way they live or how they plan to celebrate New Year's Eve.

In the early morning hours on Oct. 23, 1983, Robertson lost her husband, Marion E. Kees, in a bombing at a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

Kees, 35, of Martinsburg, W.Va., was staying in the basement of the barracks, said Robertson, who has since remarried.

The U.S. Navy medical corpsman was one of 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers killed in the bombing, which seriously wounded 80 others, according to Arlington National Cemetery's Web site.

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A truck carrying explosives crashed through the gate and into the atrium lobby of the building housing the soldiers, many of whom were still asleep, according to Eric Hammel's book, "The Root: The Marines in Beirut August 1982 - February 1984."

"I've lived and managed to make it through terrorism," said Robertson, 46.

Robertson said people shouldn't let concerns about Y2K and terrorism scare them.

"Everybody is living in fear. That is what terrorism thrives on," Robertson said.

"Look at all the things being canceled because of it."

Seattle canceled its planned millennium party after an Algerian allegedly carrying bomb-making materials was arrested in Washington two weeks ago.

Robertson said she was hurt and angry over the terrorist bombing that killed her husband, but was never scared.

"I'd like to see people just move on with their lives, be happy and not be afraid all the time," Robertson said.

Robertson said she is not concerned about Y2K, although she understands why some people are stashing food in case of power outages or other emergencies related to the computer issue.

"I think it's a big money-making thing," Robertson said.

Tonight Robertson expects to be watching television as the new year rings in.

Despite feeling let down by the federal government following her late husband's death, Robertson said she feels the federal government has and will do a good job of protecting the nation against terrorist attacks.

"You can't protect everything," she said. "They're doing the best they can."

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