Milestone: Oct. 23, 2009, 26th Anniversary of Attack on US Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Today marks the 26th anniversary of the October 23, 1983 bombing of the United States Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
Each year the United States honors the sacrifices of the 241 American servicemen who lost their lives that day in service of their country while protecting the stability of Lebanon.
The Marine barracks memorial on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut reads, "They came in peace."
Oct. 23, 1983 - A suicide terrorist driving a truck loaded with explosives blew up the headquarters of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 and wounding others -- the highest number of Marine casualties in a single day since World War II. Almost simultaneously with the blast that devastated the Marine Corps building, a second suicide bomber drove a car into a building occupied by French paratroopers and destroyed it, too. An unspecified number of Marine replacements embarked for Beirut, Lebanon, to replace the Marines killed or wounded by the terrorist attack. President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation lowering the nation's flag to half-staff in honor of the fallen Marines and addressed reporters at 8:38 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, saying the "deeds make so evident the bestial nature of those who would assume power if they could have their way and drive us out."Visit the Pentagon's 25th anniversary Web site for details.
Oct. 25, 1983 - Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Paul X. Kelley visited seriously wounded Marines injured in the Beirut terrorist bombing at the Wiesbaden, West Germany, U.S. Air Force hospital. Kelley presented 16 purple hearts before inspecting the flattened Marine headquarters building.
Oct. 26, 1983 - Vice President George Bush inspected the Marine barracks and said “insidious terrorist cowards” would not change U.S. foreign policy.
Oct. 29, 1983 - Bodies of 14 Marines and one sailor killed in Beirut, Lebanon, in the terrorist bombing, arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Del., which is the U.S. military’s mortuary. The fallen Marines, the first of the terrorist casualties to return to U.S. soil, were assigned to the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit from Camp LeJeune, N.C. The caskets, each draped with an American flag, were arranged in a row inside an aircraft hanger that had been converted to a funeral chapel for the day’s ceremonies.
Nov. 4, 1983 - President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan paid solemn tribute to the American servicemen killed and wounded in Grenada and Lebanon at a memorial service at Camp LeJeune, N.C. U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger established the Department of Defense Commission on the Beirut International Airport Terrorist Attack. U.S. Navy (Ret.) Adm. Robert L.J. Long headed the commission.
Nov. 6, 1983 - A religious service was held for the U.S. Marine Corps at the Washington Cathedral, Washington, D.C. The service paid special tribute to the Marines who died in the terrorist bombing in Beirut and in the invasion of Grenada.
Nov. 15, 1983 - Commandant of the Marine Corps U.S. Marine Gen. Paul X. Kelley returned a salute to Lance Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, the Beirut bombing victim whose speechless devotion to the Marine Corps led him to scrawl "Semper Fi" as Kelley stood by his hospital bed in West Germany on Oct. 25, 1983, three days after the attack. In a brief ceremony at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md., Kelley presented Nashton with a plaque containing his four general’s stars and the words "Semper Fi."
Dec. 28, 1983 - The Department of Defense Commission on the Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act released a 140 page unclassified report on the 23 October 1983 incident. A key recommendation by the Commission asked that the Secretary of Defense direct the development of doctrine, organization, force structure, education, and training necessary to defend against and counter terrorism.
Related: Special Report - Beirut Barracks Bombing