It was the bloodiest day in the Corps’ history since World War II, when Marines fought to secure Iwo Jima.
On October 23 1983, around 6:20 am, a yellow Mercedes-Benz truck drove to Beirut International Airport, where the 1st Battalion 8th Marines, under the U.S. 2nd Marine Division of the United States Marine Corps, had set up its local headquarters. The truck had been substituted for a hijacked water delivery truck. The truck turned onto an access road leading to the Marines’ compound and circled a parking lot. The driver then accelerated and crashed through a barbed wire fence around the parking lot, passed between two sentry posts, crashed through a gate and barreled into the lobby of the Marine headquarters. The Marine sentries at the gate were operating under their rules of engagement, which made it very difficult to respond quickly to the truck. By the time the two sentries had locked, loaded, and shouldered their weapons, the truck was already inside the building’s entry way.
The suicide bomber detonated his explosives, which were equivalent to 12,000 pounds (about 5,400 kg) of TNT. The force of the explosion collapsed the four-story cinder-block building into rubble, crushing many inside.
About 20 seconds later, an identical attack occurred against the barracks of the French 3rd Company of the 6th French Parachute Infantry Regiment. Another suicide bomber drove his truck down a ramp into the building’s underground parking garage and detonated his bomb, leveling the headquarters.
Do you remember where you were at the time? I was asleep in the Marine Barracks at Fort Bliss (yes we had a detachment on an Army post at the time).
This year I had the honor of visiting Arlington on a hot and humid July day, and seeing the Lebanese Cedar planted there.
I remember my friends from bootcamp that were assigned to BLT 1. I remember them and my other fallen brothers on this day. Please do the same.