CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – On Oct. 23, 1983, a truck filled with explosives rammed into the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 Marines and sailors and causing the largest single-day death toll in the Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Thirty years later, Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, reflected on the Marines who lost their lives during a Beirut memorial aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct 23, 2013.
During the memorial, Marines with Headquarters Company and Service Company watched and discussed a video about the Beirut bombings. The video gave a brief history of the events that day and included interviews with survivors of the bombing.
The Marines in Beirut were on a peacekeeping mission to restore order to Lebanon during a time of conflict. At the time of the attack, only a five-foot barrier of concertina wire stood between the truck and the Marines. The rules of engagement made it very difficult to stop the truck and only one Marine was able to chamber a round at the time.
“Being prepared is something [Marines] always have to be,” said Warrant Officer Matthew Pfarr, a pay and separations quality insurance officer with Service Co., CLR-17, 1st MLG. “The video gave an accurate description on how the Marine Corps operated then, such as using concertina wire, as opposed to the solid reinforced concrete barriers surrounding compounds today.”
Marines discussed important security protocol changes since that time. For example, Marines on guard today are always in condition three, a loaded magazine inserted at all times.
“It’s important to show a video of the tragic event to our junior Marines because it’s part of our history,” said Gunnery Sgt. Joanna Mendoza, Headquarters Company gunnery sergeant, CLR-17, 1st MLG. “That tragic event changed a lot of policies in the way [the Marine Corps] conducts peacekeeping missions in foreign countries.”
It was a day to reflect on the purpose behind many of the rules in place that Marines take for granted every day. These policies are inherited and instilled in each generation of Marines to prevent future tragedies.
“We have to pass on that legacy,” said Mendoza. “It’s important for the new Marines to know what happened and remember the fallen.”