Original U.S. 1983 Invasion of Beirut 24th Marine Amphibious Unit Grouping

Item Description

Original Item: One of a kind set. In May 1982 the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) and served twice as part of the multinational peace-keeping force in Lebanon (October 1982 through February 1983, and May through November 1983). The 24th MAU lost 241 personnel in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.

This was  the collection of the veteran that earned the decorations and brought back a piece of concrete with black marker written on it that reads:

OCT 23
Semper Fi
On May 30, 1983, the 24th MAU relieved the 22d MAU. On June 25, USMNF personnel conducted combined patrols with the LAF for the first time. On July 14, a LAF patrol was ambushed by Druze militia elements, and from July 15 to 17, the LAF engaged the Shia Amal militia in Beirut over dispute involving the eviction of Shiite squatters from a schoolhouse. At the same time, fighting in the Shuf between the LAF and Druze militia escalated sharply. On July 22, Beirut International Airport was shelled with Druze mortar and artillery fire, wounding three U.S. Marines and causing the temporary closing of the airport.

On July 23, Walid Jamblatt, leader of the predominantly Druze Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), announced the formation of a Syrian-backed "National Salvation Front" opposed to the May 17 Israel-Lebanon Agreement. In anticipation of an IDF withdrawal from the Alayh and Shuf districts, fighting between the Druze and LF, and between the Druze and LAF, intensified during the month of August. Druze artillery closed the BIA between and August 10 and 16, and the Druze made explicit their opposition to LAF deployment in the Shuf. The LAF also clashed with the Amal militia in Beirut's western and southern suburbs.

As the security situation deteriorated, USMNF positions at BIA were subjected to increased fire. On August 10 and 11, an estimated thirty-five rounds of mortar and rocket fire landed on USMNF positions, wounding one Marine. On August 28, 1983, the USMNF returned fire for the first time. On the following day, USMNF artillery silenced a Druze battery after two Marines had been killed in a mortar attack. On August 31, the LAF swept through the Shia neighborhood of West Beirut, establishing temporary control over the area.

On September 4, Beirut International Airport was again shelled, killing two Marines and wounding two others. As the LAF moved slowly eastward into the foothills of the Shuf, accounts of massacres, conducted by Christians and Druze alike, began to be reported. On September 5, a Druze force, reportedly reinforced by PLO elements, routed the Christian LF militia at Bhamdun and all but eliminated the LF as a military factor in the Alayh District. This defeat obliged the LAF to occupy Suq-Al-Gharb to avoid conceding all of the high ground overlooking Beirut International Airport to the Druze. USMNF positions were subjected to constant indirect fire attacks; consequently, counter-battery fire based on target acquisition radar data was employed. F-14 tactical airborne reconnaissance missions were conducted for the first time on September 7. On September 8, naval gunfire from offshore destroyers was employed for the first time in defense of the USMNF.

The National Security Council determined that the successful defense of Suq-Al-Gharb was essential to the safety of the USMNF. On September 14, an emergency ammunition resupply to the LAF was instituted. On September 19, Navy destroyers provided gunfire support of the LAF defenders at Suq-Al-Gharb. The battleship USS New Jersey arrived in Lebanese waters on September 25. A ceasefire was instituted that same day and Beirut International Airport reopened five days later. On October 1, 1983, Walid Jumblatt announced a separate governmental administration for the Shuf and called for the mass defection of all Druze elements from the LAF. Nevertheless, on October 14 the leaders of Lebanon's key factions agreed to conduct reconciliation talks in Geneva, Switzerland.

By the end of September 1983, the situation in Lebanon had changed to the extent that not one of the initial conditions upon which the mission statement was premised was still valid. The environment clearly was hostile. The assurances the Government of Lebanon had obtained from the various factions were obviously no longer operative as attacks on the USMNF came primarily from extralegal militias, and the environment could no longer be characterized as peaceful.

The image of the USMNF, in the eyes of the factional militias, had become pro-Israel, pro-Phalange, and anti-Muslim. After the USMNF engaged in direct fire support of the LAF at Suq-Al-Gharb, a significant portion of the Lebanese populace no longer considered the MNF a neutral force.
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