News: 30th anniversary of the Beirut Barracks Bombing
Story by Pfc. Samuel Ranney
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. -
October 24, 1983
I know I told you to not be worried when I deployed, that I would come home safe, and that we were only going to Lebanon on a peace keeping mission during their civil war ... unfortunately I was wrong.
I’m writing you from the burn ward of a hospital somewhere in West Germany; I was flown here after the blast. If everything goes well, I should be returning home in a few weeks. Don’t be too worried though, I’m going to live and the doctors tell me that I should fully recover from most of my injuries; unlike a lot of my brothers.
Yesterday was Sunday, so reveille wasn’t scheduled to sound until 6:30 a.m. However, instead of waking up in my barracks room in Beirut, I woke up covered and trapped under large pieces of concrete and debris of what used to be our barracks ... the four-story building was completely leveled. I remember waking up in complete shock and in a lot of pain from all the burns; I couldn’t feel anything below my waist.
A fellow Marine pulled me out from the debris and carried me to safety.
At first, I thought we were hit from artillery fire. My buddy said it was total chaos and he could barely see 10 feet in front of him from the clouds of smoke after the explosion. All he could hear after the blast and shock waves were cries for help from other Marines still trapped. Everyone was covered in dust -- some in blood. It was all surreal, kinda like a scene from a movie.
There are a lot of rumors going around the hospital about what actually happened. One of my bunk mates said it was a suicide bomber pretending to be a delivery driver. Most of us were still sleeping when it hit … higher-ups are saying this is the deadliest attack on Marines since D-Day, the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
Tomorrow the Commandant, Gen. Paul X. Kelley, will be visiting us.
I think some of us are receiving Purple Hearts, but that won’t bring back my leg or all the brothers I lost. Aside from the 220 Marines who were killed, 21 other service members were also killed. I will never forget the look on everyone’s face, or the mounds of dead bodies being recovered from the rubble.
The Marines of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines became family while I have been away from home; I can’t believe how many are gone after a single day. I would do anything to get them back ... or to get whoever is responsible for this.
This deployment wasn’t supposed to be like this, mom ... we were supposed to be peace keepers. I’m sorry again for breaking my promise but I should be seeing you soon. I love you and miss you.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Beirut Barracks Bombing; a tragic day in history that cost 241 service members their lives. 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., was there for a peace keeping mission and not prepared for the attack. The devastating act of terrorism led to the withdrawal of American troops, February, 1984.
This was a commentary written to reflect on the tragic events that took place on October 23, 1983. This is not a Marine’s actual account and was not written to express anyone’s specific injuries, story or point of view. Information for this article was taken from www.mcu.usmc.mil, www.cnn.com, www.defense.gov, news.google.com/newspaper and www.history.com.