Trump on 35th Anniversary of Marine Barracks Attack

October 26, 2018

On October 25, President Trump commemorated the 35th anniversary of the bombing on the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The country had been embroiled in a civil war since 1975. In 1982, President Reagan dispatched U.S. troops to Lebanon on a peace-keeping mission. On October 23, 1983, a truck bomb claimed the lives of 241 U.S. service personnel, the deadliest attack on Marines since the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Moments later, a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden truck into a building housing French paratroopers, killing 58. Hezbollah, a Shiite political movement and militia was responsible for the bombings. “The attack was carried out by Hezbollah, which Iran was instrumental in founding a year earlier to advance its radical agenda, and remain its main patron today.  And we are doing a big number on Iran today, in case you haven’t noticed,” said Trump. The following are excerpts from the president’s speech in the East Room of the White House. 

THE PRESIDENT: We’re gathered together on this solemn occasion to fulfill our most reverent and sacred duty.  Thirty-five years ago, 241 American service members were murdered in the terrorist attack on our Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.  It was a very sad period of time.  These are great, great people.

Today, we honor our fallen heroes and pledge that their blessed memory will never die, but live instead in the hearts of our grateful nation forever.

To every Gold Star Family: Today, we pay tribute to the heroes you knew and loved.  We grieve and mourn by your side.  And we honor the immortal sacrifice of 241 heroes who gave their lives for our freedom.  Thank you for being here very much.

In 1983, roughly 1,800 Marines were in Beirut to keep the peace in a nation torn apart by civil war.  Terrorists had bombed the U.S. Embassy earlier that year, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans.

For the 300 Marines stationed at the Beirut Airport, the morning of October 23rd arrived like any other.  The Marines on guard stood there and at their post; others slept peacefully in their bunks — until suddenly, and without warning, a truck driven by a terrorist crashed through the fences and barricades, and into the lobby of the Marine Barracks.

At 6:22 a.m., the terrorist detonated the equivalent of 1,200 pounds, commonly known as 12,000 pounds — that’s a lot, and it’s terrible — of explosives, killing 3 American soldiers, 18 American sailors, and 220 United States Marines.  That was a horrible moment.

Minutes later, another truck bomb took the lives of 58 French paratroopers.  It was the single deadliest day for the Marines since Iwo Jima.

The attack was carried out by Hezbollah, which Iran was instrumental in founding a year earlier to advance its radical agenda, and remain its main patron today.  And we are doing a big number on Iran today, in case you haven’t noticed. ...

Thank you very much.  I’ll tell you what — they’re not the same country they were when I took office, I will tell you that.  They’re rioting in their streets.  Their money has collapsed.  Their lives are a lot different.  And they’re not looking so much for the Mediterranean.   When I took office, they were looking for the Mediterranean.  They were going to take over everything.  Now they want to survive.  Whole different deal, folks.  It’s a whole different deal.

No terrorist group other than al Qaeda has more American blood on its hands.

The service members who died that day include brave young Marines just out of high school, accomplished officers in the middle of their military careers, and enlisted men who had served in theaters all over the world.  But they formed one united military family, defending their nation, serving their fellow Americans, and wearing their uniform with dignity and pride.  Such incredible pride.

Each of these heroes died as they lived: as noble warriors — they were warriors — whose hearts were filled with courage and whose souls were rich with love.

The United States Marines are often the first to deploy, the first into danger, and the “first to fight.”  And on that morning 35 years ago, they were among the very first to give their lives in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism — the battle that we are winning and we will win. 

And I have to point out — and I can do this for General Kelly, General Mattis, and everybody here — that we are doing very well in our fight against ISIS.  They are virtually knocked out entirely in Syria.  In another short period of time, they’ll be gone, and also in Iraq and in lots of other places.  We have stepped up the fight to a level that even General Mattis was very happy to get that order.  Is that right, General?  We’ve done a very strong number.   Radical Islamic terror.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will always ensure that our service members have the tools, resources, equipment, support, and trust they need to protect this nation and to defeat America’s enemies with overwhelming force.  No enemy on Earth can match the strength of our military or the might of our Marines.  We will use every instrument of our national power to confront the sinister forces of terrorism.

That is one reason why last year I withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear disaster.  On November 5th, all U.S. sanctions against Iran lifted by the nuclear deal will be back in full force — every sanction that we had on there originally, which would have — if they would have just left it a little bit longer, it would have been so much easier than what we’ve been through over the last number of years.  All they had to do was leave it the way it was.  It was eating them away.  But we’ve started it all over again, and it will be just as good.  Wasted time — and lives, unfortunately.

And they will be followed up with even more sanctions to address the full range of Iran’s malign conduct.  We will not allow the world’s leading sponsor of terror to develop the world’s deadliest weapons.  Will not happen.

Over the past year, we have levied the highest number of sanctions ever imposed on Hezbollah in a single year, by far.  Just a few moments ago, I signed legislation imposing even more hard-hitting sanctions on Hezbollah to further starve them of their funds.  And they are starving their funds. 

We will target, disrupt, and dismantle their operational and financing networks — of which they had plenty; they don’t have plenty now — and we will never forget what they did to our great Marines in Beirut.  We will never forget.  

Click here for a full transcript of the event.