Keep Your Helmet On!

Be A Part of a Tribute to Fallen Heroes - Help Build the Fallen Soldiers' Bike
Help support the families of our deployed Heroes - Visit Soldiers' Angels' Operation Outreach
Help Our Heroes Help Others - Click Here to visit SOS: KIDS
Nominate your Hero for IWT's "Hero of the Month" - click here for details!
Search Iraq War Today only

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This Day in Terrorism: Beirut

The explosion of the Marine Corps building in Beirut, Lebanon, created a large cloud of smoke that was visible from miles away. Official USMC Photo

This day in 1983, at approximately 6:20 a.m., a yellow Mercedes delivery truck drove up to the Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport, and charged through the barbed-wire fence. It passed between sentry posts (the Marine sentries did not have loaded weapons), and smashed into the the lobby of Marine headquarters.

One of the sentries reported that the driver was smiling as he passed them.

The truck, which was loaded with the equivalent of about 12,000 pounds of TNT. The four-story building collapsed, crushing many inside to death. The blast produced a mushroom cloud.

Not quite half a minute later, the French Paratrooper barracks suffered the same fate. Another truck loaded with explosives detonated in the underground parking garage, levelling the headquarters.

Rescuers had to contend with sniper fire, but did manage to pull some survivors to safety in the days that followed.

241 American servicemembers were killed; 18 were Navy, 3 Army, and the rest were U.S. Marines. 60 were injured. It was the single deadliest day for the U.S. Marines since Iwo Jima.

The French lost 58 paratroopers; 15 were injured.

Three Lebanese were also killed - two at the Marine barracks, and one at the French barracks.

In response, President Ronald Reagan pledged to keep a military force in the country, despite the "despicable act." Vice President George Bush toured the site three days later, stating that the U.S. would not be cowed by terrorists.

The French retaliated with attacks on Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions in the Bekka Valley; the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was believed to be assisting in training Hezbollah fighters.

Other than limited shelling, the U.S. offered no significant military response to the attacks. A planned strike against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was aborted due to fears of damaging relations with Lebanon's Arab neighbors.

The Marines were moved to an offshore location. In February, 1984, the International Peacekeeping Force withdrew from Lebanon.

In the absence of the lack of strong U.S. military response, and with the withdrawal of the peacekeepers, terrorists celebrated what they saw as a victory. Terrorist attacks against Westerners, and particularly Americans, increased substantially.

The event is widely viewed as the opening salvo of the War on Terror.

For more on the Marine Barracks Bombing:
The Beirut Memorial Online

U.S. Marine Corps Website - 25 Years Later

How it Happened (Military Times)

Ceremony on Sunday marks 25th anniversary of Beirut barracks bombing

"Johnny, there ain't no BLT building."

There are 273 names engraved on the walls of the Memorial. In addition to the inscribed names of those who died in Beirut and those who have died since of injuries from that blast, there are the names of the three Marine pilots from the area who were killed in Grenada. Photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph D. Day

Labels: , , ,