34th Anniversary of the Beirut bombing

| October 23, 2017 | 35 Comments

Republished from 2012;

Thirty four years ago today, 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers, were killed and sixty Americans were injured when a truck bomb disguised as a water truck penetrated superficial security at the Marine barracks in Beirut with about 12,000 pounds of explosives. Two minutes later, French barracks were struck resulting in in the deaths of 58 paratroopers from the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment and 15 others were injured. They were Multinational peacekeeping forces that had been in Beirut since the year before when Israeli forces drove Palestinians from it’s frontier with Lebanon.

On February 7, 1984, President Reagan ordered the withdrawal of US forces from Lebanon after some light shelling of suspected Shia positions and some brief French air attacks in the Bekkaa Valley. A raid on a camp where Iranian Revolutionary Guards were believed to be training Shia jhadists was called off by President Reagan because little evidence existed at the time that Iran was involved in the bombing.

The weak responses to the bombing by the US are believed to have emboldened jihadists around the world and contributed to the rise of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed extremists in Lebanon. Iran has since admitted it’s participation to the attack.

Michelle Malkin lists the casualties.

At Together We Served, they’ve posted an online memorial to the casualties that day. Stars & Stripes publishes some of the witnesses’ accounts of that day.

In 2004, Iran erected a memorial to the suicide bombers.

Category: We Remember

Comments (35)

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  1. kafir says:

    And another 250 Marines died in Goose Bay Labrador on their way home. God rest their souls.

    • kafir says:

      Correction: those were 101st Airborne troops returning from Sinai. My apologies

    • FuzeVT says:

      Hadn’t heard of this (or don’t remember – I was 13 at the time). Sad that the collective memory of things like this fade away so relatively quickly. Those 256 (248 US servicemen) lives lost were crushing loss to so many and yet the country (countries, actually) does not remember.

      I suppose that is the way of things. Think of how many people were lost in the Civil Way. We have almost no personal connection to them (speaking as a country of people) in 2017. Even if someone has a relative who they know about who died as a result of that war, the last person who knew that person while they were alive probably died close to a century ago. At the time, however, that war must have seemed like the ending of the world to most involved.

      It’s unfortunately impossible to keep it personal. Time will eventually erode all personal connections. I loved my grandfather (paternal) who landed at Casablanca and fought across the African coast, landed at Sicily, Anzio and then Southern France. He died as I was on my to Iraq in 2004 so I missed the funeral. I try to keep my kids aware of who he was and what the war was all about, but time will erode that, too. Eventually I will shuffle off this mortal coil and there will be no one who actually knew my Grandfather to tell my grandkids. They will know me and perhaps tell their kids about me, but that will eventually loose the personal connection. Sad, but it is the way of things.

  2. Ex-PH2 says:

    Carter was the President at the time. He kept using the word ‘patience’. Seven years later, he was still using that word after 40 Americans had been taken hostage by Shiites in Beirut.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1985/06/22/world/hostages-lebanon-some-relatives-are-bitter-carter-calls-americans-give-reagan.html

    I blame him for everything – all of it.

    • OldManchu says:

      Excellent reminder!

    • Old98Z says:

      ? US President 1981 – 1989 President Reagan?
      Beiurut – 1983; Loss of 101st MFO soldiers 1985.
      How was President Carter involved then?
      I was working with Arabs for DOD in the 70s, 80s and on and the mess in Lebanon preceded Carter.
      The Lebanese Civil War was in progress in 1975. Think Presidents Nixon and Ford, not Carter.

      • CB Senior says:

        Stop quoting facts around here, or the turnip brigade will get you.

        • Old98Z says:

          I don’t want to interject politics into this subject. I worked with Arab linguists of all branches for a long time. I knew some of the personnel deployed to Lebanon and to the Sinai. The folks I knew were dedicated to their missions and serving their Services and the Nation.
          We serve them best by remembering their sacrifice, as Jonn has posted repeatedly.
          Thank you Jonn for continuing to post these stories.

      • Sgt Fon says:

        carter’s foreign policy as well as his gutting of the US Military were crucial to what happened in Beirut. it was a cause and effect thing.

        no support for the friendly Lebanese except through the UN, a power vacuum with post Shah Iran knowing that America did not have the ability to fight in that part of the world and the policy of keeping Israel’s hands tied while the US played world police force all directly impacted on not only this, but the eventual rise of Hezbollah.

        • Old98Z says:

          The political situation in Lebanon in the early 1980s was extremely complicated. The Israeli invasion in 1982 was a factor. We deployed forces in 1982 to assist in overseeing the withdrawal of the PLO.
          The assassination of the Lebanese President in late 1982 lead to further chaos in the country.
          I’m not debating that Presidents Carter’s actions degraded the capabilities of our forces, only that the internal politics in Lebanon was driven by many factors besides our readiness/politics.

          • bg2 says:

            Tons of political factions involved in Lebanese strife during that time. Who remembers the Druze and Jumblatt, for instance, one of the many factions that we may hardly ever think about, today. I think part of the reason we (as a country, not you, yourselves, as individuals) perhaps never really got what was going on at the time was that we were fastened into the mindset of the Cold War, the dominant paradigm of the time, US vs. Soviet Union. How did these diverse factions fit in with the model we’d adopted for East-West conflict; or did they even fit in, at all? Sometimes when reality doesn’t comport with modeling, the model is changed; at other times, the new data are not effectively processed. I think the latter occurred with the Beirut attack.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        This is what I was referring to:

        On March 15, 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon. As result of UN Resolution – Israel Occupation Force (IOF) were replaced by UNIFIL peacekeepers in June 1978. Carter was the President at the time. He sat on his hands. He did nothing to stop the Israeli invasion, when he could have.

        Prior to that in 1967, when Lyndon Johnson was in office, the USS Liberty, an unarmed US Navy surveillance ship, was torpedoed by an Israeli fighter jet about 12 miles off the Sinai coast. It’s 50 years later, LBJ is dead, and the real reason for it still has not come to light.

        I am NOT defending the PLO or Arafat, FYI. I’m saying the entire thing could have been stopped before it started. Because it was not stopped, it went from the war with Egypt over the Sinai during the Johnson administration, to the ongoing Lebanese Civil war during Carter’s administration to a truck bombing during Reagan’s administration. So I could include LBJ in the blame game for this.

        On June 6, 1982, under the orders of Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, the IOF invaded Lebanon again, holding the entire civilian population of Beirut and Palestinian refugee camps under siege.

        In August 1982, Yasser Arafat agreed to shift PLO headquarter from Lebanon to Tunis. Pres. Reagan sent 800 Marines to help evacuate 14,000 Palestinian refugees. After the Marines left Beirut, Ariel Sharon sent in his Maronite militants of the Phalange Party, armed and trained by IOF under the orders of Israeli Prime Minister Rabin. The toll was 5,000 civilian men, women and children in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

        Pres. Reagan, under pressure from the Jewish Lobby, dispatched 1800 Marines to Beirut to look after Israeli interests after the withdrawal of IOF forces from the city.

        The truck bombing followed after that. So I can logically blame Carter for not stepping in to stop it before it happened, and I can includ Lyndon Johnson in that mess, too.

        • Old98Z says:

          @EX-PH2
          I composed one response while you posted yours. I agree with most of your history as presented with the exception of the rationale of our involvement in Lebanon.
          You neglected to touch on the events between the First Arab-Israeli War and the Second in 1973 and the actions of President Nixon and Sec Kissinger in the aftermath.
          As I posted earlier the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel was a hugely destabilizing event and there was political pressure from that time forward to join the French and Italian forces already in place. You are correct in identifying the Israeli invasion as a factor in the Lebanese politics, but since the Beirut bombing followed the invasion by over a year, you could further investigate how the Reagan administration reacted in that interim period.

          • Old98Z says:

            I’ll finish by saying I started working with Navy and Marine Arab linguists in the mid 1970s and our instructor in one course was a USS Liberty survivor.

            I’d rather return this to a remembrance of the personnel who served, and were killed, injured and survived.

          • USMC Steve says:

            Had we been allowed sane rules of engagement in Beirut this could have been stopped too. We sat there on the only level ground in that part of Lebanon, and were forbidden to engage anyone basically. Weapons could not be loaded until or unless directly threatened. Had the .50 at the checkpoint been manned and loaded, that truck would never have gotten near the barracks. The guards at the check point also had to insert magazines, chamber rounds and get on target, all of which took time and allowed the muzzie to get where he wanted to be.

          • Ex-PH2 says:

            Thanks, 98Zulu. I could have gone further, but it would take up too much room and I’m not the long-winded blowhard that our long-gone socialist was.

            I could have included the invasion of the US embassy (Carter admin) in Tehran, because that was a large part of it. There is just too much stuff in the history of how we’ve gotten into the pickle jar we’re in now, to cover it in one short space.
            Maybe a timeline of events would be useful. For example, this may have really started with the Roman siege of Jerusalem. Or it may have been the invasion of eastern Europe by the Ottoman Turks. There’s a long history there that mostly changes from one group to another. How much did T.E. Lawrence do to push things toward what is going on now, for example?
            It’s not even one single US administration at fault, but I think Carter had a great deal to do with what happened later.

            • Old98Z says:

              Cross posted again! 🙂
              Sikes-Picot and then the partition of Palestine post World War II.
              Yes, the history of the area is a tangled mess. Unfortunately there is no turning back time.
              Regards.

        • OmegaPaladin says:

          The Liberty Incident was a classic blue-on-blue situation. The overzealous Israeli Navy compounded matters by torpedoing the ship despite it not being a threat to them.

          I recommend the Liberty Incident by Judge A. J. Cristol, a former navy aviator. It exhaustively discusses the matter, and it has recently been updated with NSA surveillance tapes that correlate with Israeli air control tapes. It’s not a flattering picture – the Israelis come off as somewhat reckless, but the could have easily sank the Liberty without an issue – they even had a flight of aircraft loaded with bombs inbound when the airforce realized it’s target was possibly American, and told them to leave her.

          • Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

            @Omega.
            I did some research on the USS Liberty and the Israelis did not want the US listening on their plans for the coming up ops. that they did not want the US to know. When the Squadron leader saw that it was a US ship, he radioed back that it was a US ship but was told to attack it. He broke off and when he returned, he was put under arrest. Other attacking Israeli gun boats reported the same thing but were denied stopping the attack. The later excuse by the Israelis was that it was an enemy ship with US markings. Our Govt. at the time did not want to strain the relationship so the Pres. punked out and did not do squat about it. The case was still being thrown around by the former crew members up until the 90’s.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Please see below.

  3. RGR 4-78 says:

    Thank you Marines, for all that you do and endure.
    The United States would be much less without you.

  4. MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

    I was on watch Pier # 2 NAVSTA Newport, JOOD for CDO, word came over NYC WINS 1010 AM dial, I believe, very early in the morning. I woke up CDO and we locked down the base and NETC Newport before anyone reported for work that day.

    I had returned from 1982 MED/Persian Gulf cruise a year earlier where we helped evacuate Americans and friendlies from Lebanon to Cyprus and other ports in early summer of 1982.

  5. Wilted Willy says:

    I predict a rash of phony ponies coming out of the woodwork very soon now………….

  6. Thunderstixx says:

    Rest Easy young Marines and to the French Paratroopers too.
    Mission Accomplished for all of you.

  7. Sgt Fon says:

    i was on the bus heading to the Yorktown boces. we had Imus in the morning on the raido and he broke in to the song to give us the news. i was 17 and in 11th grade. i stayed on the bus and went back to the high school. we had a recruiting station right next to the post office. i went to the post office and registered for the draft and then to the recruiting station to enlist. the Marines said to come see them in a year and a few weeks later i got a letter from the Selective service saying i was to young to register, but that they would keep my info and register me on my 18th birthday. at the end of 12th grade i never went to graduation because i was already on those wonderful yellow footprints down at MCRD Parris Island, SC.

    I thought we were going to go to war, and we should have wiped them off the face of the earth back then. now 34 years later, the gulf war and 3 tours in Iraq we are still fighting the same damn war.

  8. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    I was at work in the NYC (manhattan) Diamond district on 47th st. when we heard about the explosion. Tragic.

  9. DefendUSA says:

    I was days away from going to Basic. I had two best men at my nuptials, no maids. He told a story about that bombing I never forgot. Why didn’t we just start fucking them up then, instead of 241 Marines dying? It still just makes me see red. I pray that their families have found peace and perspective.

  10. Sorensen45 says:

    For those who don’t know, the terrorist responsible for that bombing was himself the target of a car bombing by a joint CIA/Mossad operation in Syria, 2008. Rest in hell Imad Mughniyah. At least some justice was served.

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