Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beirut ~ Terrorism 25 Years Ago

Beirut, Lebanon
October 23, 1983
THEY CAME IN PEACE ~ but the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon on October 23, 1983 cost the lives of 220 Marines, 18 Sailors and 3 Soldiers. Many more were critically injured. The US Marines were posted in Lebanon in the summer of 1982. On March 34, 1983, the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, received orders to Beirut, Lebanon. Their mission from President Reagan: Help keep the peace in the war torn country.

The Marine Barracks before and after the bombings.

At 6:22 am, a Sunday morning, on October 23, 1983, a suicide bomber crashed a truck laded with explosives through barbed wire and concertina fence and penetrated into the central lobby of the United States Marines Headquarters building and detonated. The force ripped the building from its foundation and the building imploded upon itself. The occupants inside were crushed. A near simultaneous attack was made on a building housing French paratroopers and killing 58.

We were in Beirut because the Lebanese Government had asked for our help. They saw their country slipping into total anarchy; they saw the United States and her Marines and Sailors as their saviors. We truly did come in peace. We came to do what Marines have done since the beginning of this country: to protect the rights of the innocent and advance the interest of freedom.

Remarks by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the Senate Armed Services Committee, October 31, 1983:

"In closing, Mr Chairman, let me say that the subject of increased terrorism against all Americans around the world may be one of the most serious problems which could be addressed by this Committee on a priority basis. This unprecedented, massive "kamikaze" attack was not against young Marines, Sailors and Soldiers - it was a vicious, surprise attack against the United States of America and all we stand for in the free world.

Let me say, with all of the emphasis I can, that there are skilled and professional terrorists out there right now who are examining our vulnerabilities and making devices which are designed to kill Americans, lots of Americans around the world, in further acts of mass murder by terrorism. Let there be no doubt about it.

I would hope that the Congress would use this incident of cruel and premeditated mass murder to help us determine ways which tell nations that they cannot export and support terrorists who kill innocent Americans with impunity.

The perpetrators and supports of this challenge to the rights of free men everywhere must be identified and punished. I will have little sleep until this happens."

Thank you.
- General Paul X Kelley, USMC,
29th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Obviously, no one heeded the wise words of General Kelley. Looking back on the 25th anniversary of the event, I hope Americans will see it as the profoundly important event that it was. I remember the Beirut Bombing. I remember being horrified. I remember us packing up and coming home.

I hope you will find a moment of silence to remember all who were lost that day, their families and friends, and those injured and those who survived who still carry this momentous event with them each day.

For a wonderful slide show and documentary of the Beirut Story, go here.
For the Beirut Documentary, go here.

For the death of the Beirut Bomber, go here.

Please scroll down for an entry on the Beirut Memorial.


BostonMaggie said...


Anonymous said...

Not enough attention was paid to General Kelley's words then.
And as much as I hate to say this, if this election goes the way I think it will, someone else will be making a similar statement.

Buck said...

Thanks for the tribute, Cynthia. I was still on active duty on this day 25 years ago... and I remember all TOO well the horror and outrage we felt. Not a lil bit of it remains, too.

Anonymous said...

I remember watching the news on AFN and how quiet the base and troops were. May they each rest in peace.