The Peacekeepers Story

An ongoing conflict in the middle east during the summer of 1982 drew the United States into Beirut, Lebanon to rescue American civilians caught up in a war between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel. What followed was a series of historical events highlighting the best of the American spirit and the worst of those who oppose freedom.

The Multinational Force Peacekeepers from America, France, Italy, and Great Britain stood in the gap for others who could not protect themselves. This tower represents their sacrifice and the support for them from the communities they came from.

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First Responders Abroad and At Home

The Marines, Navy, and Army troops who served in Beirut from 1982-1984 were not there to fill their traditional military role. They were in Lebanon to provide peace and stability for those who could not protect themselves. The similarity between the Beirut Peacekeepers and First Responders who protect and watch over our communities is an important part of this story.

Our freedoms come from those in our community who are willing and able to serve and sacrifice for others. This tower demonstrates the connection between those who answer the call and the community that supports them.

Spyglass and Habitat

The connection between the tower supporting the panels and platform are dependent on each other much like the military branches when they are deployed. In Beirut there was a Marine outpost at the Lebanese University Faculty of Science called the “University”. These buildings overlooked the airport below where the majority of the Marines were positioned. Located at the top of the Library building was a sandbag bunker with an American flag. Marine snipers used this bunker to watch over the territory below and in radio transmissions referred it to as “Spyglass”.

The Battalion Headquarters building was located below the University position at the Beirut International Airport, situated on the edge of the Mediterranean Ocean, and in radio transmissions was referred to as “Habitat”.

Below The Tower

Six outer square steps one center round step.

Center - “They Came in Peace 1982-1984” Map of Beirut and MNF sectors 2 Steps - August 28, 1983 2nd Lt. Donald Losey SSgt. Alexander Ortega 2 Steps - September 6, 1983 Cpl Pedro Valle LcCpl Randy Clark 1 Step Each SSgt. Alan Soifert - October 14, 1983 Cpt. Michael Ohler - October 16, 1983

1982  Panel 1 of 9

June 6 1982 - Operation Peace for Galilee began when over 75,000 Israeli soldiers pushed over 35,000 PLO forces out of Israel and into Beirut, Lebanon. There had been over 250 attacks by the PLO in Israel since the beginning of 1982.

June 24 1982 - Due to the tension and unrest in Beirut where a civil war between Christians and Muslims had just recently ended, the 32nd Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) with Battalion (BLT) 2/8 deployed into Lebanon to evacuate 580 Americans out of Beirut.

Aug 25 to Sept 10 1982 - At the request of the Lebanese government, a Multi-national force from France, Italy, and America including 800 Marines from the 32nd MAU assist in evacuating PLO troops out of Beirut. The PLO led by Yasser Arafat and his forces were transported by French ships out Beirut and taken to Greece without incident.

1982  Panel 2 of 9

Sept 14 1982 - President-elect Bashir Gemayel is killed with 26 others in a bomb attack at the Phalange Kataeb headquarters building in Beirut while planning his new government.

Sept 17 1982 - Just days after the Gemayel assassination, Phalange Militia attack two Palestinian refugee camps (Sabra and Shatila) looking for PLO militia possibly hiding in the camps. This was seen as retribution for the Bashir’s murder. There were reports of up to 2,000 women and children killed during the attack. This incident led to international concerns of reigniting the civil war in Lebanon.

Sept 29 1982 - With heightened tension in the region, President Ronald Reagan redeployed the 32nd MAU and BLT 2/8 along with Multi-National forces (MNF) from England, France, and Italy to provide peace and stability for the people in Beirut.

1983  Panel 3 of 9

Sept 30 1982 - As the Marines prepare to come ashore Corporal David Regan became the first US MNF Marine to die while conducting an ordnance and disposal operation to clear the airfield at the Beirut Airport. Three other Marines engineers were wounded when a bomblet exploded.

Oct 30 1982 - The 24th MAU with BLT 3/8 relieves the 32nd MAU and BLT 2/8. Under command of Col. Thomas Stokes the Marines began to establish their presence at the Beirut Airport and setup MAU and BLT Headquarters in a series of buildings inside the airport perimeter.

Nov 1 1982 to Feb 14 1983 - Marines and Multi-national forces begin conducting patrols throughout Beirut and its surrounding suburbs while also training the Lebanese Armed Forces to provide stability and protection in the region. Their presence was greeted with much appreciation by the local residents who felt safer with the MNF there.

1983  Panel 4 of 9

Feb 2 1983 - Three Israeli tanks near the University (Spyglass 1) position tried to break through a checkpoint to conduct their own patrols. These tanks were stopped by a Marine Captain who drew his .45 caliber pistol and told them to turn back, which they did. This incident was seen and reported on by radio stations throughout the city, which was viewed with positive reactions by some Muslim factions.

Feb 20-24 1983 - Acting as First Responders, the 22nd MAU provides emergency support to citizens in the mountains near Beirut during a heavy winter snowstorm, clearing roads and taking supplies to rural areas in need.

April 18 1983 - In an attempt to push the US out Beirut, the US Embassy in downtown Beirut was partially destroyed by a terrorist car bomb parked just outside the building. There were 7 CIA operatives killed along with 4 Army Soldiers and 1 Marine who was on post when the attack occurred.

1983  Panel 5 of 9

Aug 28 1983 - Under international pressure, the Israeli army finally began their withdrawal. Now the muslim militia began attacking Marine positions with rockets, mortars, and small arms fire. In one of these series of attacks a mortar hit a tent occupied by Marines and instantly killed 2nd Lt. Donald Losey and SSgt Alexander Ortega from Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon.

Sept 6 1983 - All Marines positions had been under daily heavy and escalating attacks from mortar, rocket, and small arms fire since the Israeli army departure. In the early morning of Sept. 6, LCpl Randy Clark and Cpl Pedro Valle with Alpha Company were killed in a rocket attack at their checkpoint.

Sept 22 1983 - The USS New Jersey fires its sixteen inch guns into the Shouf mountains in support of the LAF. Muslim militia allies, Iran and Syria, saw the assault as an offensive move by the US.

1983  Panel 6 of 9

Oct 14 1983 - While returning to the airport after responding to a call from the Lebanese Armed Forces about an unexploded ordnance in a nearby neighborhood, EOD specialist SSG Alan Soifert was killed by sniper fire.

Oct 16 1983 - Captain Michael Ohler was killed by a sniper while calling in air support from the Spyglass 1 position at the top of the University position.

Oct 23 1983 - At 0622 a truck carrying 12,000 pounds of high explosives drove into the Marines headquarters and detonated. The FBI report stated this was the largest non-nuclear blast ever detonated. The blast created an oblong crater measuring 39’ x 29’ and 8’8” deep. It reduced the 3 story building to a one story pile of ruble. There were 241 Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers killed and 79 injured in the blast. 10 minutes later another attack at the French contingent headquarters killed 58 French paratroopers with only 15 survivors.

1983  Panel 7 of 9

Oct 24 - Nov 1 1983 - There were no survivors found after October 23rd. The process of identifying bodies and notifying families took over a week as rescue workers delicately sifted through the rubble of what was once the Marine Headquarters for the 1/8 Battalion.

Nov 5 1983 - William Gaines Jr. funeral service is held in Port Charlotte. As the twenty-one gun salute was being fired, Alpha and Echo company still in Beirut depart from the University position, they come under heavy and intense fire from small arms and mortars.

Dec 4 1983 - 8 Marines KIA by rocket attack South of the Beirut airport. (Need to add more for this story, Manny Cox, ect.) A Navy Lt. dies when his plane crashed while providing air support (list name).

1984  Panel 8 of 9

Jan 8 1984 - Marine Sgt. Ed Gargano died in an ambush while stepping off a helicopter near the UK/US Embassy located on the Corniche in Beirut.

Feb 8 1984 - Marine Captain Alford Butler dies in his quarters while cleaning his pistol and is the last MNF American Marine casualty.

Feb 26 1984 - At 0600 the last of the 2/8 BLT Marines and US Multinational Force depart their positions around the Beirut airport turning over control for security in Beirut to the Lebanese Armed Forces.

1984  Panel 9 of 9

Apr 8 1984 - Marines from BLT 3/8 with 24th MAU arrive in Beirut to provide relief in place for the external security force protecting the US Embassy and Ambassador.

May - June 1984 - Marine Combat Engineers from BLT 3/8 improve bunkers and barriers protecting against reported threats to the US/UK Embassy compound.

Sep 20 1984 - At 1140 at the relocated American Embassy Annex in East Beirut a suicide bomber attempted to drive a van into the complex and was shot before he could enter. Losing control 10 yards shy of the building the bomb detonated and killed 24 people including two Americans. This attack led to the closing of the US Embassy in Beirut for the next 20 years.

Remembering the Fallen

The Marines, Navy, and Army troops who served in Beirut from 1982-1984 were not there to fill their traditional military role. They were in Lebanon to provide peace and stability for those who could not protect themselves.

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