Path to Safety

Sidebar to Escape from Lebanon

In the first few days after Israel began bombing Lebanon on July 12, 2006, some Americans immediately drove to Syria or Jordan. Israel soon bombed those highways, and the overland route was no longer safe. By July 16, military helicopters had landed at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut to evacuate small groups of Americans to Cyprus. By July 18, passenger and naval ships pulled into Beirut's harbor to carry thousands more to Cyprus. Once the receiving areas in Cyprus filled up, passenger ships took the remaining Americans to Turkey. The military arranged for commercial and military airplanes to fly Americans to East Coast airports.

Wednesday, July 12
Israel begins bombing Lebanon.
Friday, July 14
At the State Department's request, the Defense Department moves its Marine Expeditionary Unit toward Lebanon to assist with evacuations. U.S. Transportation Command sets up contracts with passenger ships.
Saturday, July 15
Kristen Trotter and Claire Elisabeth Thomas move into the dorms at the American University of Beirut.
Sunday, July 16
Raba Letteri takes her family to the U.S. Embassy to ask for help. First groups of Americans are flown out on MEU helicopters.
Tuesday, July 18
Orient Queen arrives in Beirut's harbor to evacuate Americans to Cyprus. Thomas rides a Norwegian cargo ship with other American students to Cyprus; Letteri boards a helicopter to Cyprus with her family.
Thursday, July 20
Naval and passenger ships pull into Beirut's harbor to move thousands of Americans to Cyprus.
Friday, July 21
Thomas arrives home in Kansas City, Kansas. Letteri flies home to Reston, Va., after a stopover in Paris.
Saturday, July 22
Trotter takes the USS Whidbey Island to Cyprus, where she catches an Air Force cargo plane to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

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