This was one of the most shameful episodes of the Reagan administration. Furthermore, it was subsequently learned that the wounded were to be air-lifted to Israel’s highly advanced and state of the arts trauma hospitals, but Weinberger nixed that and the wounded had to endure a three hour flight to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, prolonging their pain and suffering and possibly altering their prognosis….rsk
When suicide bombers strike, the shadowy men who dispatch their charges then step back to gauge the response. Thirty years ago Wednesday, after one of the costliest acts of terror ever committed against America, Washington sent out the worst possible message to terrorists around the world. They were watching and listening.
Early on Sunday morning, October 23, 1983, when our Marines were still asleep in their cots at the Beirut International Airport, a truck driven by an Iranian, Ismail Ascari, and filled with explosives crashed into their barracks. The blast was so huge that witnesses said the four-story building actually lifted into the air before it came crashing down.
The blast killed 220 Marines, more than any day since Iwo Jima — 18 sailors, three soldiers and six civilians. Almost simultaneously, a second suicide truck bomber blew up a nine story building on the other side of the airport killing 58 French paratroopers.
The Americans and French were in Beirut as part of an international peacekeeping force sent to quell the violence from the Lebanese Civil War. Once a beautiful and tranquil country, Lebanon descended into a living hell after the P.L.O. arrived, having been kicked out of Jordan by King Hussein in 1970. This tipped the fragile balance between Arab Christians and Muslims. Soon they were fighting each other as well as the Israelis, who entered in 1982 to stop PLO terror raids.