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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Russell Eugene Cyzick

"Patriotism is merely a religion—love of country, worship of country, devotion to the country’s flag and honor and welfare."

Mark Twain

Lance Corporal Russell “Rusty” Cyzick was born on July 5, 1963, in Star City, Monongalia County, West Virginia. He lived there his whole life with his family of four until he enlisted into the Marine Corps. His father was Eugene S. Cyzick, his mother was Peggy Robinson Cyzick (later Mason), and his brother was Frank Cyzick.

Before Rusty enlisted, he was an active member of the community. Mostly involved with his school and church, he was the manager of the St. Francis DeSales High School basketball team and a member of the golf and football team. He attended the Goshen Baptist Church as well.

After graduating from St. Francis DeSales High School, Rusty enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on June 4, 1981. After his boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, he was assigned to the 24th Amphibious Unit as a Military Occupational Specialist (MOS) 1371 – Combat Engineer.

In August 1982, a multinational peacekeeping force consisting of troops from the United States, France, and Italy were dispatched to Lebanon for a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The foreign troops were to oversee the safe withdrawal of the PLO from Beirut, which was completed by early September 1982. However, the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, Lebanese president-elect, on September 14, 1982, prompted Christian militiamen to carry out mass killings of hundreds of Palestinians. Troops soon returned to Lebanon. After an attempt for a formal peace agreement between Israel and Lebanon to withdraw Israeli troops fell through, fighting between militias and the multinational peacekeeping force increased.

In May 1983, the 24th Amphibious Unit was assigned to the USS Austin and was deployed to Lebanon in order to protect the Beirut International Airport. Lance Cpl. Cyzick became part of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment in Beirut.

In the early hours of October 23, 1983, the young 20-year-old Lance Corporal Russell “Rusty” Cyzick’s life was claimed among the other 241 American lives lost that day due to suicide bombers that attacked the Marine barracks.

“It was like they stuck them in a box and blew them up, they had no chance,” said Rusty’s father. “A useless death” and “boy didn’t have chance one” also was said about him. Eugene Cyzick feels like his son died a pointless death just to give someone else a chance to get ammunition. “But it’s a shame it took 229 [sic] of our boys to die before they could use ammunition.” (“Boy Didn’t Have Chance One,” Charleston Gazette, 31 Oct. 1983.)

On October 31, 1983, the county of Monongalia, West Virginia, paid tribute to Lance Cpl. Cyzick and played “taps” in the presence of his friends and family. (Sharman Peters, “County Pays Tribute to Cyzick, Marines,” Dominion Post, 31 Oct. 1983, p. 1.) For his actions in Beirut, he was awarded the Purple Heart. Rusty’s grave rests at the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Mount Morris, Greene County, Pennsylvania.

Additional information regarding Rusty Cyzick, as well as photos, can be found on Find A Grave and at Beirut Memorial On Line.

Adrian Clifton, Jacob Skeens, and Jarod Peters, George Washington High School JROTC
December 2017


Russell Eugene Cyzick

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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