The trick was leaving. Ann Kerr went with Steve to the airport in August.
“There was some question about whether flights would be going out because of everything that was happening,” Kerr said. “We were in the terminal, and all of a sudden there was a blast. It wasn’t in the terminal but on the runways. The whole place just froze. Everybody just froze. People started gathering, saying, ‘We’ve got to get the hell out of here.’ My mom grabbed me, and I remember running out of the terminal and through the parking lot. It was really scary. I remember thinking, ‘This is real.’”
The Kerrs pondered options for getting Steve out. They learned that a private plane of diplomats was going to the United States Marine base and there might be an available seat on the flight back out. Steve spent hours waiting, talking to Marines. In the end, there were no seats. The Kerrs eventually made arrangements for a university driver to take Steve over the mountains, through Syria to Jordan. (The driver, a longtime friend of the family, was killed by a sniper in Beirut in 1985.)
On an early morning in October 1983, a truck bomb destroyed the four-story Marine barracks. Among…