It was 33 years ago that 241 U.S. Marines were killed when a terrorist truck bomb went off next to a Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon while they were trying to keep the peace between Isralies and Lebanese.
Lance Cpl. Marty Remillard of Englewood, Fla. was serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower as it sailed the Mediterranean showing the flag at the time of the incident.
“On Oct 20, 1983 we left Beirut and headed for Italy and a little R&R. It also gave our ship time to resupply and refuel,” the Marine explained.
“We found out an hour after it happened that all those Marines had been killed in Beirut,” he said. “All our leaves were canceled and we headed back to Beirut.”
Shortly before 6:30 a.m. on Ot. 23 a Mercedes truck went through a check point without stopping and continued on. The truck circled the airport parking lot twice gathering speed as it turned toward the Headquarters building.
Marine sentries were not allowed to have bullets in the chambers of their rifles or machine-guns. According to experts, even if they had been locked and loaded when the Mercedes truck bore down on the command post, there wouldn’t have been much they could have done to prevent it from penetrating the Marine’s defensive perimeter.
After breaking through several barricades it scooted between two Marine sentry boxes, smashed through some more barricades and came to a stop after breaking into the headquarters building’s ground floor.
Then the driver blew himself up along with 231 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers most of whom were still in their bunks asleep. The bulk of them died in the collapse of their barracks around them
On Feb. 26, 1984, the Marine peace keepers in Beirut pulled out because of the slaughter at the Marine barracks four months earlier.
There wasn’t a whole lot a lance corporal stationed aboard an aircraft carrier could do about it.
“You felt like the kid in the school yard and your little brother was getting beat up by the school bully. But your hands were tied behind your back,” Remillard said. “We had all the power on the aircraft carrier, but there was nothing we could do about any of this.”
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, Oct 23, 2003 and is republished with permission.
Click here to view the Don’s submissions to the collections in alphabetical order in the Library of Congress. This veteran’s story will not post on the Veterans History Project collections, as the interview took place long before Don started submitting to the Library of Congress.
Click here to view the War Tales fan page on FaceBook.
Click here to search Veterans Records and to obtain information on retrieving lost commendations.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be republished without permission. Links are encouraged.