County honors family of Jeffrey Young with Gold Star ID

Moorestown Marine was killed in 1983 terrorist bombing

County Commissioner Allison Eckel (right) presents the first two Gold Star Family IDs to John and Judith Young, parents of Marine Sgt. Jeffrey D. Young.


The Patti Smith song goes

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“In a room in Lebanon
They silently slept
They were dreaming crazy dreams
In a foreign alphabet
Lucky young boys
Cross on the main
The driver was approaching
The American zone
The waving of hands
The tiniest train
They never dreamed
They’d never wake again.”

“Where Duty Calls.” 

More than 300 men were sleeping in First Battalion, Eighth Marine Headquarters – a Beirut International Airport hotel – at 6:22 a.m. on Oct. 23, 1983.

Suddenly, an Islamic terrorist driving a truck with 2,000 pounds of explosives sped by a Marine post, through a fence, and crashed into the hotel lobby, creating a huge explosion that killed 241   Marines, sailors and soldiers. The building instantly collapsed into a pile of rubble.

The news was devastating for Americans, including a family in Moorestown: John and Judith Young lost their 22-year-old son, Sgt. Jeffrey D. Young. But his memory has been preserved. In May 2017, the township renamed its baseball fields and playground at the intersection of Lenola and New Albany roads the Jeff Young Memorial Park. The Moorestown Rotary Club adopted the park and still helps maintain it.

And on Oct. 13, the Burlington County Clerk’s Office issued the first of its Gold Star Family ID cards to Young’s parents. 

“We can never repay the debt we owe to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Commissioner Allison Eckel said during the Gold Star ceremony. “But these identification cards are a small way to honor their service and sacrifice and to extend support to their families whenever possible. 

“We want to let these families know how grateful we are and that we are here for them if needed,” she added. “These cards can help us do that.”

“We have a responsibility to always remember those who answered the call and laid down their lives in service, and that includes honoring the family they left behind who shared in their sacrifice,” Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion noted. 

“For them, we know there is nothing that can fill the void left from their loss,’ he added. “But these cards serve as a small token of appreciation from a grateful county and a reminder that their loved one’s sacrifice is not forgotten.”

County Public Information Officer David Levinsky said the free ID cards enable Gold Star family members to receive certain discounts or courtesies extended to military families. In New Jersey, they include free admission to federal and state parks and recreation areas, free or reduced fees to state beaches and free admission to the New Jersey State Museum. The county also offers free adoptions from its shelter to all veterans and military families.

The cards can also be used for discounts or benefits offered at some stores and restaurants to  veterans and Gold Star families. Eligibility was recently expanded to include children whose parent or legal guardian died while serving on active duty with the military.

“We’re proud to offer this service to the mothers, fathers, sons, spouses and children of those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Burlington County Clerk Joanne Schwartz said. “We want to encourage all residents who qualify to take advantage of this service and all the others offered by our office.”

Eligible residents can obtain a Gold Star Family ID card at the clerk’s office, 50 Rancocas St., Mount Holly. Proper documentation is required and can include the service member’s federal DD Form 1300 or a casualty report identifying the service member who died on active duty.

As for the Youngs, they visited Beirut in 1998 and were interviewed by the New York Daily News.

“You can go through this and it’s like it happened last year,” Judith Young said then. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been 15 years. You stop and you think, OK, he was 22, so he’d be in his 30s. Would he be married? Would he have children? What would he be doing? Everybody thinks the same thing: what if?”

“Jeffrey was doing what he wanted to do and that’s the way we looked at it,” John Young remarked. “That’s what helped get us through. I mean, how many 22-year-old guys know exactly what they want to do? 

“He knew exactly what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a Marine.”


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