The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Beirut 1983
In 1982, at the request of the government of Lebanon, the United States agreed to participate, along with the French and Italians, in a peacekeeping force in war-torn Beirut, where Moslem and Christian factions were fighting. On 24 March 1983, the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit were dispatched to Lebanon. In April 1983, the U.S. embassy in Beirut was struck by a terrorist driving a van loaded with 2,000 pounds of explosive. 63 people were killed, including 17 Americans -- a number that included one Marine and the entire CIA Mideast contingent. On 23 October 1983, a terrorist drove a truck loaded with explosives into the headquarters building of the First Battalion, 8th Marines, located at the Beirut airport. The resulting explosion killed 241 American servicemen. The French peacekeeping contingent was also struck, and 58 French soldiers perished. Three months later, the Reagan administration removed American troops from Beirut. A naval presence was maintained off the coast.

A Marine Sea Cobra helicopter on patrol on outskirts of Beirut, May 1983

Marines on patrol in Beirut, 1983

In the aftermath of the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy, Beirut, 21 April 1983

The Battalion Landing Team HQ prior to the attack

Smoke rising from headquarters building shortly after the explosion, 23 October

In the five images above, the search for survivors

TIME Magazine, 31 October 1983 issue

The Stars & Stripes reports on the tragedy

A Marine mourns the passing of his brethren

The Reagans at a memorial service, Camp Lejeune, NC

The big guns of the USS New Jersey, off the coast of Lebanon,
 blazing away at a target in 1984