Chronology: Marines in lebanon, 1982-19840
Reprinted from Proceedings by permission. Copyright 1984, U.S. Naval Institute.
1982 25 August Roughly 800 Marines of the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), commanded by Colonel James M. Mead, landed in Beirut as part of a multinational peacekeeping force to oversee evacuation of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrillas. The force also includes 400 French and 800 Italian soldiers. 10 September Evacuation of PLO complete; 32d MAU was ordered out of Beirut by the President of the United States. 26 September Preparation for redeployment of the 32d MAU to Beirut got under way, in the wake of the assassination of Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel, an Israeli push into Moslem West Beirut, and the massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. Marines and sailors of the 32d MAU received Navy Unit Commendation for their part in the PLO evacuation, in ceremonies on board the USS Guam (LPH-9), 60 miles off the coast of Lebanon. 29 September The 32d MAU returned to Beirut, to join 2,200 French and Italian troops already in place. 30 September Marines suffer first casualties (one killed in action, three wounded in action) while clearing unexploded ordnance from the vicinity of Beirut International Airport. 30 October The 32d MAU was relieved by the 24th MAU, commanded by Colonel Thomas M. Stokes, Jr. 4 November The 24th MAU extends its presence in Beirut to the eastern (Christian) sector, patrolling the "Green Line" that divides the city into sectarian parts. 3 December 24th MAU artillery was moved ashore (Battery of six 155mm howitzers). 10 December 24th MAU armor was moved ashore (Platoon of five M60A7 tanks). 13 December Marines commence training of Lebanese Armed Forces. About 75 Lebanese soldiers underwent 21 days' training in basic infantry skills and helicopter assaults. 1983 29 January Emergency communication network established between American and Israeli forces as tensions mounted between adjacent ground units. 2 February Captain Charles B. Johnson confronted three Israeli tanks as they attempted to pass through his company check point.
15 February The 32d MAU, redesignated the 22d MAU and still commanded by Colonel Mead, returned to Lebanon to relieve the 24th MAU. 21 February Marines commence four days of relief operations in the town of Quartaba during Lebanon's worst blizzard in memory. With Syrian acquiescence, Marine helicopters flew into Syrian-held territory in Lebanon's central mountains to rescue victims of frostbite and exposure. 16 March Five Marines were wounded in action in first direct attack on American peacekeeping troops. An Islamic fundamentalist group claims responsibility. 17 March The 24th MAU received the Navy Unit Commendation for Lebanon service from October 1982 to February 1983. 18 April A large car bomb explodes at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, causing massive structural damage and killing 61, including 17 Americans. More than 100 were injured. Islamic fundamentalists again claim responsibility. 5 May Marine helicopter with six aboard, including Colonel Mead, is hit by ground fire as it investigates artillery duels between Druze and Christian gunners. 17 May Lebanon-Israeli withdrawal agreement is signed. 30 May The 24th MAU, commanded by Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, relieves the 22d MAU. 25 June Marines conduct first combined patrols with Lebanese Army troops. 27 June The 22d MAU received the Navy Unit Commendation for Lebanon service from 15 February to 30 June 1983. 22 July Two Marines and one sailor wounded in action by shell fragments during shelling of Beirut International airport, part of a general pattern of increasing indirect fire against the Lebanese Army, the airport, and the multinational force. 10 August About 27 artillery and mortar rounds were fired by Druze militia from the high ground east of Beirut into Beirut International Airport, resulting in one Marine wounded in action. Rockets also hit the Defense Ministry and the Presidential Palace. Three Cabinet ministers were kidnapped by the Druze. 11 August Eight more rocket/artillery rounds fired into Beirut International Airport. No casualties. 28 August A combat outpost manned by 30 Marines and Lebanese Army troops east of Beirut International Airport came under fire from semiautomatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Marines return fire for the first time, with rifles and M-60 machine guns. No friendly casualties, after a 90-minute firefight. 29 August A heavy rocket, mortar, and artillery attack on 24th MAU positions on the eastern side of Beirut International Airport resulted in two Marines killed in action and 14 Marines wounded in action. Marines retaliate with 155mm artillery. 30 August French and Italian command posts hit by mortar fire. One French soldier killed, five Italians wounded.
31 August Department of Defense authorized hostile fire pay of $65 per month for Marines and sailors of the 24th MAU serving in Lebanon. 31 August Marines retaliate with 155mm artillery after Moslem shelling of U.S. Embassy residence. 1 September Joint Chiefs of Staff directed deployment of Amphibious Ready Group Alpha with the 31st MAU embarked, from the Western Pacific to the Mediterranean, in the vicinity of Lebanon. 4 September Israeli forces withdrew to positions on the Awwali River, creating a void to be filled by factional hostilities among the Lebanese. 6 September Rocket attack on Beirut International Airport from Druze positions in Shouf mountains resulted in two Marines killed, two Marines wounded. Total since 28 August: four KIA, 28 WIA. 8 September Frigate USS Bowen (FF-1079) fired 5-inch guns in first American use of naval gunfire support, silencing a Druze militia battery that had shelled Beirut International Airport. Marines also responded with 155mm artillery fire. 10 September Battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) was alerted for deployment to the Eastern Mediterranean. 12 September 31st MAU arrived off Lebanon, assumed standby role. 16 September Destroyer USS John Rodgers (DD-983) and frigate USS Bowen responded with 5-inch gunfire into Syrian-controlled parts of Lebanon, after continued shelling near the residence of the U.S. ambassador. 19 September USS John Rodgers and USS Virginia (CGN-38) fire 338 five-inch rounds to help Lebanese Army troops retain hold on strategic Shouf Mountains village of Suq al Gharb. American role shifted from "presence" to direct support of Lebanese Armed Forces, in perception of rebel factions. 20 September Residence of U.S. ambassador was shelled; USS John Rodgers and USS Virginia responded. 21 September USS John Rodgers and USS Arthur Radford (DD-968) responded to shelling of Marines at Beirut International Airport. 23 September Indirect fire attack on Marine positions countered by 155mm artillery fire and five-inch gunfire from USS Virginia. 24 September USS New Jersey arrived off Lebanese coast following high-speed transit from duty off Central America. 26 September Cease-fire went into effect at 0600. Announced by Saudi Arabian and Syrian officials in Damascus, supported by Druze. Talks begin on formation of new coalition government for Lebanon. Marine casualties to date: five killed, 49 wounded. 1 October 31st MAU departed Mediterranean for Indian Ocean, in response to threatened crisis near Strait of Hormuz. 5 October Two Marine helicopters hit by ground fire. 8 October Two Marines wounded by sniper fire. 13 October One Marine wounded by grenade fragments. 14 October One Marine killed, three wounded by sniper fire. Marine sharpshooters responded, setting off three-hour fire-fight. Ceasefire of 26 September allegedly still in place. 15 October Marine sharpshooters kill four snipers.
16 October One Marine killed, five wounded by sniper fire. 19 October Four Marines wounded as attempt to ambush Marine convoy with car bomb was thwarted. 23 October Suicide truck loaded with equivalent of 12,000 pounds of explosives destroyed headquarters building of BLT 1/8 at Beirut International Airport. Almost simultaneous suicide attack destroyed building occupied by French paratroopers. U.S. casualties: 241 killed, 70 wounded. French casualties: 58 killed. Marine replacement airlifts, via 13 C-141 aircraft, begin the same day. 25 October Commandant of the Marine Corps General Paul X. Kelley visited wounded in West German hospital and flies on to Lebanon to inspect scene of suicide attack. 4 November Department of Defense established commission headed by Admiral Robert L.G. Long (USN (Ret.), to investigate 23 October suicide attack at Beirut International Airport. Suicide driver blows up Israeli headquarters in Tyre, killing 29 soldiers and 32 prisoners. 7 November Brigadier General Jim R. Joy, USMC, arrived in Beirut to assume command of Marine operations in Lebanon. 19 November The 24th MAU was relieved by the 22d MAU, which had participated in the 25 October-2 November Grenada intervention en route to the Mediterranean. Brigadier General Joy was overall commander of Lebanon operations for the Marines. 22 November Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger stated that the 23 October suicide attack on the Marines was carried out by Iranians with the "sponsorship, knowledge, and authority of the Syrian government." 4 December Marines at Beirut International Airport came under heavy fire from gun positions in Syrian-held territory. Marine casualties: eight killed, two wounded. Naval gunfire missions fired in retaliation. Earlier in the day, a 29-plane raid was conducted on Syrian antiaircraft positions in the mountains east of Beirut, in retaliation for Syrian fire directed at American aerial reconnaissance missions. Two U.S. aircraft are downed, in this first combat mission over Lebanon. 15 December The battleship USS New Jersey delivered 16-inch gunfire on antiaircraft positions in the Syrian-occupied mountains southeast of Beirut, as the Syrians continue to fire at U.S. reconnaissance flights over the area. This was the USS New Jersey's first action off Lebanon. 28 December The Long Commission released an unclassified 140-page report on the 23 October suicide attack. 1984 8 January A Marine is killed by unidentified assailants as he exits a helicopter at a landing zone on the edge of downtown Beirut. The helicopter flew to safety, after returning fire with its machine guns. 13 January Marines in the Beirut International Airport area fought a 30-minute battle with gunmen firing from a building east of their perimeter. 15 January Druze gunners closed Beirut International Airport for three hours with intense 23mm fire on Marine positions east and southeast of the airport. U.S. forces responded with small arms fire, mortars, rockets, tank fire, and naval gunfire from the battleship USS New Jersey and destroyer USS Tattnall. No U.S. casualties.
2 February Heavy fighting erupted in the suburbs of Beirut, between the Lebanese Army and Shiite militiamen. 3 February Shiite leadership called for resignation of Moslem cabinet members and urges Moslems in the Lebanese Army to disregard the orders of their leaders. Prime Minister Wazzan and the Lebanese cabinet resigned, to clear way for formation of new coalition government. 6 February Druze and Moslem militiamen seized much of Beirut in street fighting and demanded resignation of Gemayel. 7 February President Reagan announced decision to redeploy Marines from Beirut International Airport to ships offshore, leaving a residual force behind to protect the U.S. Embassy and other American interests. Increased reliance on air strikes and naval gunfire support indicated. 8 February USS New Jersey bombarded Druze and Syrian gun positions as part of the heaviest naval gunfire support since the arrival of the Marines in 1982. 10-11 February American civilians and other foreign nationals were evacuated from Beirut by helicopter. 21 February Marines began their redeployment to ships of the Sixth Fleet offshore. About 150 Marines departed in the first increment. 26 February Redeployment of the 22d MAU to offshore ships completed.
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