Custom Publication of the Bangor Daily News

Marine heard the big explosion

Posted Nov. 08, 2012, at 3:45 p.m.

On Sunday, Oct. 23, 1983, I was a member of a small contingent of Marines supplying external security at the new American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.

The previous embassy had been destroyed by a car bomb in April 1983. At 0622 hours on Oct. 23, as we were preparing for our duties, we heard two large explosions seconds apart. Someone said that car bombs must be going off.

A few minutes later a Marine told that the headquarters building had been leveled. I said it was hit with rockets. He said, “No, it is leveled to the ground.”

Two hundred and forty-one American servicemen had been killed by a truck bomb. The second explosion we heard that morning was the French headquarters being hit by a truck bomb; that explosion killed nearly 50 people.

September 1983 was personally my worst month as a member of the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force, but Oct. 23, 1983 was my worst day. This is a date I will never get through without fierce emotions for all the American servicemen killed trying to save lives during a peacekeeping mission.

Kevin Perry lives in Orneville.