- Posted October 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Beirut Bombing - 30 years ago - Single greatest loss of life
“At approximately 0622 on Sunday, 23 October 1983, the Battalion Landing Team headquarters building in the Marine Amphibious Unit compound at Beirut International Airport was destroyed by a terrorist bomb. The catastrophic attack took the lives of Marines, sailors and soldiers and wounded many others. The bombing was carried out by one lone terrorist driving a yellow Mercedes Benz stake-bed truck that accelerated through the public parking lot south of the BLT headquarters building, where it exploded. The truck drove over the barbed and concertina wire obstacle, passed between two Marine guard posts without being engaged by fire, entered an open gate, passed around one sewer pipe barrier and between two others, flattened the Sergeant of the Guard’s sandbagged booth at the building’s entrance, penetrated the lobby of the building and detonated while the majority of the occupants slept. The force of the explosion [12,000 pounds] ripped the building from its foundation. The building then imploded upon itself. Almost all the occupants were crushed or trapped inside the wreckage.” - Department of Defense Statement
In all, 241 U. S. servicemembers, (220 Marines, 17 Sailors, and 3 Soldiers) were killed along with 71 French paratroopers. A few hundred were wounded. I have only met a handful of Marines who were there, survived and told a humbling story of that day and how it has affected their lives. My first encounter was with 1st Lt Hasey --- my Series Commander in basic training. He had 4 ribbons, one being the Purple Heart. He taught our M16A2 rifle class and something I will never forget. The only other Marine that I can remember was LtCol Wayne Briggs, USMC/Ret. He was an Air Defense officer just off-site from the compound. The carnage of that day is still resonant in his mind and what took place that day I cannot imagine for one second.
My hats off to my fallen brothers who came before us and gave their lives, not for the enemy, but for the country they loved so much. Fair winds and following seas Marines! Rest in peace warriors. Semper Fidelis!
EDITORS NOTE: There are many pictures from that dreadful day. I simply took a few to make a collage. Feel free to post additional pics. You have my permission to add photos.