On an early Sunday morning 33 years ago, a 19-ton Mercedes-Benz truck punched through a five-foot high concertina wire fence and into a four-story barracks housing Marines at the Beirut International Airport.

At approximately 6:22 a.m. on Oct. 23, 1983, the driver - Iranian national Ismail Ascari - set off an estimated 21,000 pounds of TNT which first lifted the structure off the ground and then collapsed into a mass of concrete rubble.

When the dust had settled, 220 Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines - Battalion Landing Team had perished along with 21 other service members, marking the deadliest day for the Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in Feb., 1945.




The travesty was commemorated Sunday at the 33rd Beirut Memorial Observance ceremony at the Beirut Memorial in the Lejeune Memorial Gardens aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, home to 1/8.

Around 800 attended the event, the Jacksonville Daily News reported.

President Ronald Reagan deployed the Marines to Lebanon in 1982 as part of a multinational security force to oversee a ceasefire brokered between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
However, the Sept. 1982 assassination of Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel reignited Lebanon's civil war, and the Marines soon found themselves in the midst of a raging conflict.

The Islamic Republic of Iran sought to capitalize on the chaotic environment and set up shop in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley to fund, arm and train Hezbollah fighters.
The U.S. government would later directly link the attack to Hezbollah and Iran.

President Reagan withdrew the Marines from Lebanon in Feb., 1984.