A suicide bomber drives a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. That same morning, 58 French soldiers were killed in their barracks two miles away in a separate suicide terrorist attack. The U.S. Marines were part of a multinational force sent to Lebanon in August 1982 to oversee the Palestinian withdrawal from Lebanon.
In 1975, a bloody civil war erupted in Lebanon, with Palestinian and leftist Muslim guerrillas battling militias of the Christian Phalange Party, the Maronite Christian community and other groups. During the next few years, Syrian, Israeli and United Nations interventions failed to resolve the factional fighting and, on August 20, 1982, a multinational force including 800 U.S. Marines was ordered to Beirut to help coordinate the Palestinian withdrawal.
[Following] the massacre of Palestinian refugees by a Christian militia, [the] next day, the first U.S. Marine to die during the mission was killed while defusing a bomb. Other Marines fell prey to snipers. On April 18, 1983, a suicide bomber driving a van devastated the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. Then, on October 23, a Lebanese terrorist plowed his bomb-laden truck through three guard posts, a barbed-wire fence and into the lobby of the Marines Corps headquarters in Beirut. [He] detonated a massive bomb killing 241 Marine, Navy and Army personnel. The bomb, which was made of a sophisticated explosive enhanced by gas, had an explosive power equivalent to 18,000 pounds of dynamite. The identities of the embassy and barracks bombers were not determined but, they were suspected to be Shiite terrorists associated with Iran.
Serious questions also arose over the quality of security in the American sector of war-torn Beirut. The U.S. peacekeeping force occupied an exposed area near the airport but, for political reasons, the Marine Commander had not been allowed to maintain a completely secure perimeter before the attack.
On February 26, 1984, the main force of Marines left Lebanon, leaving just a small contingent to guard the U.S. embassy in Beirut.
This one hits home. One of the Marines killed in that bombing graduated from my high school. He graduated in 1982 (two years ahead of me) and I never got to meet him but, I knew his younger brother whom was a year behind me. Many years later, I wound up married to the Corps for 12 years. My ex and I visited the Beirut Bombing Memorial in Jacksonville when he returned from Iraq War duty. I took pictures but, I don’t remember what happened to them. ~Vic
Burlington Times-News Article (Johnny’s name on the wall…)