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Lebanon

MARINES IN LEBANON, 1982 - 1984

1982

25 August - Roughly 800 Marines of the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), commanded by Colonel James M. Mead, land in Beirut as part of a multinational peace-keeping force to oversee evacuation of PLO guerillas under Israeli siege. Force also includes 400 French and 800 Italian soldiers.

10 September - Evacuation of PLO complete; 32d MAU is ordered out of Beirut by the President of the United States.

26 September - Preparations for redeployment are 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 receive the 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 returns to Beirut, to join 2,200 French and Italian troops already in place.

30 September - Marines suffer first casualties (1 KIA; 3 WIA) while clearing unexploded ordnance from the vicinity of Beirut International Airport (BIA).

30 October - The 32d MAU is 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 is moved ashore. (Battery of 6 155mm howitzers)

10 December - 24th MAU armor is moved ashore. (Platoon of 5 M60A7 tanks)

13 December - Marines commence training of Lebanese Armed Forces. About 75 Lebanese soldiers undergo 21 days training in basic infantry skills and helicopter assaults.

1983

29 January - Emergency communication network established between American and Israeli forces as tensions mount between adjacent ground units.

2 February - Captain Charles B. Johnson confronts three Israeli tanks as they attempt to pass through his company check point, in the most serious incident to date.

15 February - The 32d MAU, now re-designated the 22d MAU and still commanded by Colonel Mead, returns 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 also fly into Syrian-held territory in Lebanon's central mountains to rescue victims of frostbite and exposure.

16 March - Five Marines WIA in first direct attack on American peace-keeping troops. Islamic fundamentalist group Jihad Islami claims responsibility.

17 March - The 24th MAU receives the Navy Unit Commendation for service in Lebanon between October 1982 and 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 are injured. Islamic fundamentalists again claim responsibility.

5 May - Marine helicopter with 6 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 receives the Navy Unit Commendation for service in Lebanon between 15 February and 30 June 1983.

22 July - Two Marines and one sailor WIA by shrapnel during shelling of BIA, part of a general pattern of increasing indirect fire against the Lebanese Army, the airport, and the Multi-national Force.

10 August - About 27 artillery and mortar rounds are fired by Druze militia from the high ground east of Beirut into BIA, resulting in one Marine WIA. Rockets also hit the Defense Ministry and the Presidential palace, and three cabinet ministers are kidnapped by the Druze.

11 August - Eight more rocket/artillery rounds fired into BIA. No casualties.

16 August - Commandant of the Marine Corps visits the 24th MAU.

28 August - A combat outpost manned by 30 Marines and Lebanese Army troops east of BIA comes under fire from semi-automatic 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 eastern side of BIA results in 2 Marine KIA and 14 Marine WIA. Marines retaliate with 155mm artillery.

30 August - French and Italian command posts hit by mortar fire. One French KIA; 5 Italian WIA.

31 August - Department of Defense authorizes hostile fire pay of $65 per month for Marines and sailors of the 24th MAU serving in Lebanon. Marines retaliate with 155mm artillery after Moslem shelling of U.S. Embassy residence.

1 September - JCS directs deployment of Amphibious Ready Group ALPHA with the 31st MAU embarked, from the Western Pacific to the Mediterranean in the vicinity of Lebanon.

3 September - The 35th MAU is activated in the Western Pacific, to replace the 31st MAU.

4 September - Israeli forces withdraw to positions on the Awali River, creating a void to be filled by factional hostilities among the Lebanese.

6 September - Rocket attack on BIA from Druze positions in Shouf mountains results in 2 Marine KIA; 2 Marine WIA. Total since 28 August: 4 KIA; 28 WIA.

8 September - Frigate USS Bowen fires 5-inch guns in first American use of naval gunfire support, silencing a Druze militia battery that had shelled BIA. Marines also responded with 155mm artillery fire.

10 September - Battleship USS New Jersey is alerted for deployment to the Eastern Mediterranean.

12 September - 31st MAU arrives off Lebanon, assumes standby role.

16 September - Destroyer USS John Rodgers and frigate USS Bowen respond 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 Rogers 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 respond.

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 attillery fire and five-inch gunfire from USS Virginia.

24 September - USS New Jersery 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 sharp-shooters 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 destroys headquarters building of BLT 1/8 at BIA. Almost simultaneous suicide attack destroys building occupied by French paratroopers. U.S. casualties: 241 KIA; 70 WIA. French casualties: 58 KIA. Marine replacement airlifts, via 13 C-141 aircraft, begin the same day.

25 October - Commandant of the Marine Corps visits wounded in West German hospital and flies on to Lebanon to inspect scene of suicide attack.

4 November - Department of Defense establishes commission headed by Admiral Robert L.G. Long USN (Ret.) to investigate 23 October suicide attack at BIA. Suicide driver blows up Israeli headquarters in Tyre, killing 29 soldiers and 32 prisoners.

7 November - Brigadier General James R. Joy, USMC arrives in Beirut to assume command of Marine operations in Lebanon.

19 November - The 24th MAU is relieved by the 22d MAU, which had participated in the 25 October - 2 November Grenada intervention en route to the Mediterranean. Brigadier General Joy is in overall command of Lebanon operations for the Marines.

22 November - Defense Secretary Weinberger states that the 23 October suicide attack on the Marines was carried out by Iranians with the "sponsorship, knowledge, and authority of Syrian government."

4 December - Marines at BIA come under heavy fire from gun positions in Syrian-held territory. Marine casualties: 8 KIA; 2 WIA. Naval gunfire missions fired in retaliation. Earlier in the day, a 28-plane raid was conducted on Syrian anti-aircraft 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 delivers 16-inch gunfire on anti-aircraft 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 releases 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 BIA area fight a 30-minute battle with gunmen firing from a building east of their perimeter.

15 January - Druze gunners close BIA for three hours with intense 23mm fire on Marine positions east and southeast of the airport. U.S. forces respond 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 erupts in the suburbs of Beirut, between the Lebanese Army and Shi'ite militiamen.

3 February - Shi'ite leadership calls 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 resign, to clear way for formation of new coalition government.

6 February - Druze and Moslem militiamen seize much of Beirut in street fighting and demand resignation of Gemayel

7 February - President Reagan announces decision to re-deploy Marines from BIA 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 bombards Druze and Syrian gun batteries in Lebanon in the heaviest and most sustained American military action since the Marines arrived in Lebanon in 1982.

10-11 February - American civilians and other foreigners evacuate Beirut by helicopter.

21 February - US Marines officially begin their withdrawal from Beirut to US Sixth Fleet ships offshore.

26 February - Withdrawal of the 22d MAU complete.

Reference Section
History and Museums Division


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