Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Carlos Del Toro spoke at the 40th Annual Beirut Memorial Observance at the Beirut Memorial, Lejeune Memorial Gardens, on October 23.
The observance honors the fallen service members who served in Lebanon from 1958 to 1984 and in Grenada; especially those killed in the Beirut Bombing on October 23, 1983.
Secretary Del Toro was joined by Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips, Representatives Greg Pence and Greg Murphy, and Marine Corps leadership, including Commandant of the Marine Corps General Eric M. Smith.
“Today, we remember the ultimate sacrifices that those Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and their families made on October 23rd, 1983, by telling their stories, and in-turn, keeping their memories alive, ensuring that they are never forgotten,” said Del Toro. “To the Gold Star families of the Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers who gave their all on October 23rd, 1983, thank you. Thank you for your sacrifices in defense of not only our nation, but in defense of the freedom of millions of Lebanese during their nation’s civil war forty years ago.”
On Oct. 23, 1983, two truck bombs struck buildings in Beirut, Lebanon, housing American and French service members. The service members were part of a peacekeeping military operation during the Lebanese Civil War. The first of two suicide bombers detonated a truck bomb at a building used for housing members of 1st Battalion 8th Marines (Battalion Landing Team – BLT 1/8) of the 2nd Marine Division, immediately killing 220 Marines, 18 Sailors and three Soldiers. Minutes later, a second suicide bomber struck the Drakkar Building where the French contingent was stationed, killing 55 paratroopers from the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment and three paratroopers of the 9th Parachute Chasseur Regiment. These bombings marked the deadliest single-day death toll for the Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
The observance was hosted by the City of Jacksonville Beirut Memorial Advisory Board in cooperation with the City of Jacksonville, Marine Corps Installations East and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.