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A view from the forward deck of the battleship USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62) as her 16-inch guns are fired off the starboard side  against the anti government forces in the Shouf region during a deployment off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon in 1983
A view from the forward deck of the battleship USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62) as her 16-inch guns are fired off the starboard side against the anti government forces in the Shouf region during a deployment off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon in 1983

A Northwest Arkansas veteran spearheaded a bill that was recently signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson that recognizes veterans for their service in the Lebanon conflict in the early 1980s.

Steve Foster is a retired sailor and an Elkins native, and served in Lebanon from February of 1984 to the end of 1985. Foster said he arrived in Beirut four months after a suicide bomber killed 240 Marines.

“My brothers gave blood, tears, sweat and we’re no different than anyone else, we just did what we were asked to do and some of us didn’t come home, and that should be recognized,” Foster said.

He served on the U.S.S. Ponce, an amphibious ship that protected the Lebanon Embassy. Foster said when he found out veterans who served during that conflict were not recognized by the state of Arkansas, he pushed for legislation that would acknowledge his fellow sailors and soldiers.

“Sometimes things slip through the cracks, and luckily I found out about this and decided to do something about it,” Foster said.

On Tuesday (April 7), Gov. Hutchinson signed his bill into law, now called Act 1140. Veterans of the Lebanon conflict are now able to get specialized license plates honoring their service.

“My brother in Cabot can now have Lebanon on his license plate, and that when people set behind him in traffic, they’re going to know that that man served, and served an honorable mention,” Foster said.

He said he retired from the Navy in 1985, but said he will always remember his time in Beirut.

“I didn’t do anything but my job, and I’m proud of my service, but I’m more proud of my brothers, they’re the ones that deserve this recognition, not me,” Foster said.

Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, sponsored the bill.

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