News   Observances

35 Years Later: Sacrifice and Tragedy Remembered

Oct. 23, 2018
You have accessed part of a historical collection on defense.gov. Some of the information contained within may be outdated and links may not function. Please contact the DOD Webmaster with any questions.

Thirty-five years ago today two suicide bombers drove trucks into buildings housing U.S. and French peacekeepers from the Multinational Force in Lebanon at Beirut International Airport. When the explosions cleared, 220 U.S. Marines, 18 sailors and 3 soldiers were dead. Today, we remember their sacrifice and the tremendous loss suffered by their families, friends and comrades.

“We didn’t know the dangers and the horrors of war. … I think we all kind of grew up that day,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said today during a ceremony at the Beirut Memorial at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. “We knew the world had changed … I think it changed all of us and made us realize that it’s a dangerous place out there.”

Arriving back at the White House after the bombing, President Ronald Reagan addressed reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, expressing "the outrage of all Americans at the despicable act, following as it does on the one perpetrated several months ago in the spring that took the lives of scores of people at our embassy in ... Beirut."

1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing by the Numbers:
Number of truck bombs detonated: 2
Local time bombs were detonated: 6:22 a.m.
Personnel killed at the barracks by bombs: 305
U.S. soldiers, sailors and Marines killed: 241
French peacekeepers killed: 58
Civilians killed: 6