Beirut Bombing Marines



Beirut Bombing Marines
Beirut Bombing Marines
Largest non-nuclear explosion on record
hits Beirut Marines, 25 years ago
"We lost a lot of Marines that day."
On October 23, 1983, enemies of the United States bombed
the Marine Battalion Landing Team Headquarters and a
French garrison in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 American
servicemen, mostly Marines, and 58 French soldiers. Iran was
mightily involved, working through Hezbollah. This year
marks the 25th Annual Remembrance. There is much to
remember. First we are obliged to grasp what happened, and
listen to the men who were there as they advise us what the
impact of this event has been. Some have called this an act of
terrorism. I don't buy it. It was an act of war and that war
continues to this day.
By Ed Marek, editor
November 16, 2008
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The front-piece of a special presented by the Department of Defense (DoD)
on the 25th Anniversary of the attack against the Marine barracks, Beirut,
Lebanon, October 23, 1983.
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Back in December 2005, I published an article entitled,
"Islamic attacks against the US since 1979 cost roughly 3,500
lives." I noted the Japanese attacks against the Hawaiian
Islands in 1941 killed 2,500.
One of the major Islamic enemy attacks since that time
occurred on October 23, 1983, against the US Marine Corps
Battalion Landing Team 1-8 Marines Headquarters (BLT 1-8)
at the Beirut International Airport. Two hundred twenty
Marines from the 1-8 Marines, 18 Sailors, and three Soldiers
were killed. Fifty-eight French Soldiers were also killed, all
from the 3rd Company, 1st Parachute Regiment. Sixty
Americans and 15 French were injured.
This was the bloodiest day for the US Marines since their
amphibious assault against Iwo Jima in WWII.
Aerial view of the American Embassy Beirut as heavy cranes continue to
remove rubble from the upper floors on April 21, 1983, following the enemy
bombing three days earlier. Photo courtesy of Claude Salhani, USMC, US
Marines in Lebanon 1982-1984
This attack occurred just six months after the Islamic enemy
attacked US Embassy Beirut, killing 63, of whom 17 were
General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps,
sent a message to all Marines on October 15, 2008 and asked
them to pause for a moment to remember their lost brothers
from Beirut. We should do the same. The Beirut Veterans of
America say this:
"The first duty is to remember."
I agree.
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US Embassy Tehran people being walked out of the embassy as prisoners,
November 4, 1979. Photo presented by The Memory Hole.
The first major Islamic enemy attack against the United States
occurred in 1979, when Iranians invaded the US Embassy,
Tehran, an act which led to a 400-plus day hostage crisis.
Embassies are considered the soveriegn territory of the
country there, so in effect, this was an attack against the
United States.
There have been many Islamic enemy attacks since. Setting
aside the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the last major Islamic
enemy attack against the US occurred on September 11, 2001,
the 9-11 attacks.
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U.S. Marines removing the dead from their bombed barracks in Beirut, 1983.
Presented by Bollyn.inf
There were two attacks on October 23, 1983 in Beirut. The
first was against the Battalion Landing Team (BLT), 1st
Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, the 1-8 Marines, "The Beirut
Battalion." The second was against the 3rd Company, 1st
Parachute Regiment, France.
The 1-8 Marines were and are
subordinate to the 2nd Marine
Division (MARDIV), the
"Tarawa Division." They were
activated on April 1, 1940 and
went through the wringer in the
Pacific War of WWII, having
fought in Guadalcanal, Tarawa,
Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. It
then went to Nagasaki to
participate in the occupation of
Japan. It participated in the 1958
landings in Beirut, the Cuban
Missile Crisis, the intervention in the Dominican Republic, the
evacuations from Albania, and a deployment to Zaire, now
called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has been
based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
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In May 1983, the 1-8 was sent to Lebanon as part of an
international peacekeeping force, and remained there through
November 1983, when President Reagan ordered them to
withdraw. It was part of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit
(MAU). It would later fight in Iraq during both Iraq Wars and
led the November 2004 assault on Fallujah.
When I started this report, I intended only to reflect on the
25th Remembrance ceremonies for the Americans lost in
Beirut in this 1983 atack. As I got into it, I was dissatisfied by
what I didn't know about the events surrounding the attack and
the attack itself.
Advertised as a peacekeeping mission, our Marines were
actually in a war. Furthermore, their hands were tied by the
suits back in Washington with absurd rules of engagement
(ROE). The second thing I found was that the explosion
inflicted on them was extremely powerful, the most powerful
non-nulcear explosion we had experienced to that time. I had
no idea how powerful it was. Finally, I am ashamed to admit
that I did not know of the memorial at Quantico, the special
markers at Arlington National Cemetery, and the fact that the
Marine Corps holds a memorial remembrance every year.
Worst of all, I had only a cursory understanding of the history
there from 1982-1984.
I aim to correct this with this report. I will try to avoid the
political and diplomatic decisions behind putting the Marines
in Beirut in this peacekeeping role, though as a former
military man, some "opinions" might squeak through here and
My intent here is to be sure to explain why the Marines were
there, explain at least at a top level the situation they were in,
hear from the survivors, show you the damage done by this
Islamic enemy bomb attack, and participate remotely in 25th
annual remembrances of this attack. Finally, I want to expose
you to what the survivors believe to have been the
consequences of this attack --- they provide some worthwhile
Editor's note: In this article, you are going to see how the
suits tied the hands of our Marines in Beirut, the Marines paid
a horrendous price, and US prestige in the Mideast took a
major blow. The guards standing post at the building that was
car-bombed were not allowed to have their weapons loaded.
At least one of those guards tried to load and fire as the
bomber drove by, but could not get it done fast enough. Fast
forward to April 2008 in Iraq. Cpl. Jonathan Yale and LCpl
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Jordan Haerter were presented with a similar situation in
Ramadi, guarding a compound housing US Marines and Iraqi
Police. An enemy driver of a 20-foot truck ignored their
orders to stop. Iraqi soldiers fled. These two Marines held their
ground, fired their automatic weapons immediately and
unhesitatingly, and brought the truck to a stop before
detonation. The truck did not make it to the compound. These
two Marines were killed in the blast, but they saved the men in
the compound. They will soon receive the Navy Cross
posthumous. The only differences between these Marines and
those guarding the Beirut compound were the rules of
engagement. Anyone telling a Marine to guard something in a
combat zone with his weapon unloaded should be shot.
Historical background
24th MAU arrives in Beirut, 1-8 Marines embarked
In their own words, the Marines and Sailors who were there
Photos of the devastation
The first duty is to remember - The 25th Remembrance
Those who were there provide us some advice
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