Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the day a Hezbollah suicide bomber attacked the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon — killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers.
As President Obama explained in a statement released today:
"Our Marines and their fellow service members were serving in Beirut as part of a multinational force during the Lebanese civil war, to help bring stability to a troubled region and to defend our strategic interests in the Middle East. They came in peace."
Marine Corps veteran Mark Nevells survived the blast, and described the aftermath to Bangor Daily News:
“I grabbed my gear and ran to the barracks. We watched as the building dropped then we went over for the recovery mission. There were so many people in that building and we just wanted to get them out."
Nevells and fellow Marines spent five days searching the rubble for survivors.
The attack prompted President Ronald Reagan to withdraw American military forces from Lebanon.
Matthew Levitt, who wrote the book Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God, told USA Today:
"It really was a watershed in international terrorism. This was something new."
Some argue it was the day the so-called "War on Terror" really began.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released a statement on the tragic anniversary, which reads, in part:
"The United States will always honor the sacrifice of those fallen service members, whose mission was to bring peace and security to Lebanon. As we reflect on the legacy of that terrible day, we strengthen our resolve to support the people of Lebanon, and we give thanks for the many sacrifices our military, development and diplomatic personnel are making across the globe to protect Americans and promote our values and interests."