MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- A remembrance was held Tuesday and Wednesday at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s Memorial Gardens to honor Marines, Sailors and Soldiers who lost their lives during bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
Oct. 23, 1983, at approximately 6:20 a.m., 241 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers were killed and hundreds wounded during the devastating terrorist attack.
Two trucks filled with explosives ran through the fence of the barracks before detonating and causing one of the deadliest days for the Marine Corps since the battle of Iwo Jima.
“There are many lessons to be learned and passed on to future generations of Marines,” said Sgt. Maj. David G. Eldridge, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron sergeant major.
“You can never let your guard down or take anything for granted, regardless of your status or the rules of engagement,” said Eldridge.
After the initial attack, then President Ronald Reagan made a televised address to the public about the incident.
He spoke about why Marines were in Lebanon and why such an attack happened.
Reagan went on to say there were approximately 1,600 Marines that were part of a multinational force in place to help the people of Lebanon restore order and stability to the land.
Dave Madaras, a private first class at the time of the attack, said he remembered waking up to get breakfast when the explosion happened, according to an interview with Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools in October.
“Words in the English language can’t even begin to describe the magnitude of the blast,” said Madaras. “I woke up and immediately felt the concussion and was completely blasted by a wave of heat that came over me.”
The memorial at Camp Lejeune was set up to remember every single victim and to ensure that they are never forgotten.
“One thing that is amazing is that in the Marine Corps hymn it says that Marines guard the gates of heaven,” said Madaras. “A lot of Marines went on guard duty that day in heaven and will not be forgotten.”
Eldridge says it is important for Marine noncommissioned officers to learn about the incident to ensure something like that doesn’t happen again.
“Many things could have been done better by all levels of leadership involved that could have possibly prevented the catastrophe,” said Eldridge. “We owe it to each other as Marines now, and we owe it to the Marines who experienced it and mostly importantly we owe it to the memory of all the Marines who gave their life for their country on foreign soil that day.”