Chronologies - 1983


1 January – A composite U.S. Marine Corps band participated in the 94th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The 100-plus member band was composed of musicians from Marine units stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; El Toro, California; Camp Pendleton, California; and San Diego, California. This marked the 36th consecutive year that the Corps’ bandsmen participated in the Rose Parade. Over one million spectators saw the Marine musicians and millions more viewed the marching unit on nationwide television.

1 January – A new unified command for Southwest Asia known as the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) was activated. The new command, made up of Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine units, is responsible for protecting U.S. security interests in the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean areas. USCENTCOM command took the place of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force and is empowered to draw from a pool of 230,000 troops in the U.S. in the event of a war emergency in that critical region.

1 January – The Basic Skills Education Program (BSEP) became effective to provide training in reading, mathematics, and English to Marines who were identified as deficient in any of the basic skills. Guidelines for screening eligible BSEP participants included motivation, level of basic skills required for satisfactory performance in a specific military occupation series, and military classification test scores.

1 January – The strength of the armed forces was 2,112,500, of which 195,700 were Marines.

3, 5, 7 and 12 January – Purple Heart Medals were awarded to three Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Marines and the widow of another for wounds suffered 30 September 1982 at the Beirut International Airport, Lebanon, from an explosion of a cluster bomb during mine-clearing operations. Lance Corporal George Washington was presented the medal on 3 January, Corporal Anthony Morgan received his medal on 7 January, and Lance Corporal Leslie R. Morris was awarded the Purple Heart on 12 January. The widow of Corporal David L. Reagan, who was seriously injured by the blast and later died during surgery aboard the USS Guam, was presented his Purple Heart on 5 January.

6 January – Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 (HMH-361) at Marine Corps Air Station, Tustin, California, achieved its 25,000th accident –free flight hour. Major General Clayton L. Comfort, commanding general of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, stated that the “Flying Tigers” of HMH-361 showed leadership, professionalism, and dedication to accomplish all tasks and missions safely and successfully for five years to achieve this milestone.

7 January – Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314), the first tactical squadron of any service to receive the F/A-18 Hornet, began flight operations at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California. VMFA-314 personnel were trained to operate the Hornet at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, with joint Navy/Marine Fleet Readiness Squadron 125. The F/A-18 Hornet, as a replacement for the aging F-4 Phantom, provides a quantum improvement for Marine fighter-attack squadrons.

13 January – Retired General David Monroe Shoup, 78, a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, died of a heart ailment at Circle Terrace Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia. General Shoup served as the 22d Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1 January 1960 until his retirement from active service, 31 December 1963. As a colonel in World War II, General Shoup earned the Medal of Honor while commanding the Second Marines, 2d Marine Division on Tarawa. The highly decorated general was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery on 17 January.

14 January – Retired Major General Samuel C. Cumming, 88, died in Sarasota, Florida. Major General Cumming entered the Marine Corps 1917 and served with the 5th Marines in World War I. He was commanding officer of the 25th Marines and the assistant division commander of the 4th Marine Division during World War II. The decorated general retired from the Marine Corps in 1946.

22 January - 1 February – The Commandant of the Philippine Marines, Brigadier General Rodolfp M. Pumsalang, visited the United States as a guest of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert H. Barrow. The purpose of this visit was to tour Marine Corps operational and support commands, observe equipment, individual and unit training, and amphibious operations.

___ February – Technology replaced the versatile World War II “steel pot” helmet with a synthetic fabric model weighing the same three pounds but offering 25 percent more protection to the wearer’s head, temple, ear and neck areas. The same Kevlar fabric developed by Dupont Corporation was also used in the manufacture of flak jackets. Marines of the 32d Amphibious Unit sported the Kevlar flak jackets during their deployments to Lebanon in 1982.

___ February – The first M198, 155mm towed artillery piece was received by the 1st Marine Division cannoneers at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California. The regiment’s aging fleet of 105mm howitzer cannons were slowly retired in favor of the Corps’ new M198. The M198 has a range nearly 30 kilometers, weighs 15,700 pounds, and has a hydraulic pedestal so it can be rotated 360 degrees in 15 seconds.

2 February – Captain Charles B. Johnson, USMC, of Neenah, Wisconsin, drew and loaded his pistol while blocking an attempt by three Israeli tanks to pass through his checkpoint near the Beirut University Library, Lebanon. The lead tank in the Israeli formation stopped a foot in front of Captain Johnson of Company L of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit. The confrontation appeared to be the most serious of six or seven reported between Israeli soldiers and U.S. Marines on peacekeeping duty in Lebanon.

7 February – A McDonald’s restaurant had a grand opening ceremony at Camp Pendleton, California, marking the first fast-food enterprise invasion of a U.S. military base. McDonald’s won the contract for an on-base operation through competitive bidding late in 1982 after the base commander approved a request from the Marine Corps Exchange. McDonald’s believed the company would have great potential at Camp Pendleton, a base for 40,000 Marines.

15 February – Marines of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) replaced the 24th MAU in Beirut, Lebanon, as part of an international peacekeeping force. The 22d MAU was commanded by Colonel James Mead who also commanded the 32d MAU during the initial landings in Lebanon during August and September 1982. The 22d MAU was composed of Battalion Landing Team, 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264, and MAU Service Support Group 22.

15 February – Retired Brigadier General Robert Hugh Williams, 75, died of cancer at his farm “Bryn Mawr” near Wales, Wisconsin. During World War II, General Williams commanded the 1st Parachute Battalion and in 1943 became the first commanding officer of the 1st Parachute Regiment. He was awarded the Navy Cross for action at Gavutu, Solomon Islands, and was executive officer of the 28th Marines when the regiment captured Mount Suribachi and raised the flag on Iwo Jima.

16 February – Marine Helicopter Training Squadron 301 (HMT-301) of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter), Tustin, California, celebrated eight years of accident-free flying. In addition to training Marine Corps personnel, HMT-301 also trained pilots from the Naval Flight School at Pensacola, Florida.

21-24 February – The U.S. Marines in Lebanon conducted humanitarian relief operations in the town of Quartaba during Lebanon’s worst blizzard in memory. The operations consisted of snow removal, distribution of food and heating fuel, and medical assistance. U. S. Marine helicopters also flew into Syrian -- held territory in Lebanon’s central mountains -- and rescued four Lebanese men suffering from frostbite and exposure. The operation brought about a degree of cooperation between the Syrians, Israelis, Lebanese and the multinational force.

24 February – Marine Colonel Robert F. Overmeyer, who piloted the fifth flight of the space shuttle Columbia in November 1982, visited Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), El Toro, California. Colonel Overmeyer presented the commanding general of MCAS El Toro, Brigadier General Richard M. Cooke, with plaques displaying Columbia patches and Marine Corps flags taken on the shuttle flight.

26 February – The honor platoon from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, was on hand to welcome Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on the first stop of their West Coast tour at San Diego. The Marines were part of a dual ceremonial guard which included a platoon of Navy recruits and a Navy/Marine Corps joint color guard. The Queen inspected the military units and toured the San Diego harbor area.

28 February – Major General David M. Twomey assumed command of Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia, upon the retirement of Lieutenant General Richard E. Carey. Since June 1981, General Twomey was director of the Quantico Education Center, an 11-school complex. Prior to assuming his assignments at Quantico, General Twomey served as Commanding General of the 2d Marine Division at Camp Lejeune from July 1979 - June 1981; and Inspector General of the Marine Corps from July 1978 - June 1979.

1-3 March – Over 100 volunteers from the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California, assisted Huntington Beach, California, civil authorities in flood relief operations.

3-22 March – “Team Spirit 83,” a joint combined exercise involving some 188,000 U.S. and Republic of Korea Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force personnel, was staged in South Korea. III Marine Amphibious Force Marines stationed at Okinawa and Iwakuni, Japan, participated by forming a Marine Air Ground Task Force comprised of about 8,000. “Team Spirit 83” maneuvers were structured to train for a Korean contingency based on the defense of South Korea against North Korean aggression.

8 March – The 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), the second American MAU to serve as part of the international peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon, arrived at Morehead City, North Carolina. The 24th MAU was relieved in Beirut by the 22d MAU on 15 February 1983.

9 March – Retired Brigadier General Robert Bostwick Carney, Jr., 63, former commander of Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. from 1964-1968, died at his home in Arlington, Virginia. General Carney earned the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for his service with the 5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima and was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” for his service in Vietnam. He retired from active duty in July 1972.

11-17 March – Elements of the 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade and ships of Amphibious Squadron 4 joined Naval and Air Forces of Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands for exercise “Cold Winter ‘83” in Norway. The biennial exercise, sponsored by the Norwegian Brigade North, was designed to exercise coordination procedures between Norwegian and allied units in combat operations under winter conditions.

12-26 March – More than 3,200 Marines from the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing participated in “Operation Skyhawk,” the largest Marine air reserve exercise ever held. Approximately 100 aircraft from 48 units and personnel from all reserve units in the continental United States participated in the exercise consisting of close air support, combat air patrols, troop lifts, electronic warfare missions and aerial refueling. Marine units included elements of the 3d Marine Amphibious Brigade, elements of the 5th and 11th Marines, and Marine Aircraft Group 42. The exercise took place at Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona, and other military installations in Nevada and California.

14 March – General Robert H. Barrow, Commandant of the Marine Corps, demanded that “firm and strong action” be taken to stop Israeli forces in Lebanon from putting Marines in “life-threatening situations” that are “timed, orchestrated and executed for obtuse Israeli political purposes.” The general’s charges were contained in a letter to Secretary of Defense, Caspar W. Weinberger. General Barrow had been concerned for months over what he considered deliberate Israeli provocations designed to discredit international peacekeeping forces in Lebanon.

16 March – Five Marines from Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, 22d Marine Amphibious Unit were wounded superficially during a foot patrol in an urban area called Warzia, northwest of Marine Corps positions at Beirut International Airport. An unknown assailant tossed a fragmentation hand grenade at the patrol marking the first direct attack against the 1,200-man force since American troops took up positions in Beirut during 1982. An Islamic fundamentalist group known as Jihad Islami, or Islamic Holy War, claimed responsibility for the attack on the Marines.

17 March – The 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) was presented the Navy Unit Commendation by Major General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., Commanding General of the 2d Marine Division, for meritorious service from 29 October 1982 to 15 February 1983 as part of the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon. During that period, the 24th MAU was commanded by Colonel Thomas M. Stokes, Jr.

18 March – Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 267 (HML-267) celebrated 80,000 hours of accident-free flying. Major General Clayton L. Comfort, commanding general of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing congratulated the Marines of HML-267 and praised them for soaring past aviation milestones.

18 March – The Bachelor Enlisted Quarters at Henderson Hall, Arlington, Virginia, were dedicated in honor of Marine Lance Corporal Miguel Keith, USMC (Deceased), a Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient. Keith Hall consists of two separate five-story buildings which share a common garden and green area and a two-level underground parking complex. The facility has 260 individual rooms and houses 553 Marines. LCpl Keith was awarded a Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions as a machine gunner with Combined Action Platoon 1-3-2, III Amphibious Force in Vietnam.

18 - 22 March – Approximately 13,000 Marines, Navy, Army, and Air Force personnel participated in exercise “Gallant Knight ‘83.” Marines of the I Marine Amphibious Force participated in the exercise which was conducted under the aegis of the U.S. Central Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; San Diego, California; and Camp Pendleton, California. The exercise was designed to test command and control functions and employment plans. It also examined procedures of the U.S. Central Command.

21 March – Lebanon’s President, Amin Gemayel, visited U.S. Navy ships which directly supported the peace-keeping mission of the multinational force in Lebanon. He flew aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and was briefed on U.S. Sixth Fleet missions by Rear Admiral Edward H. Martin, Commander, Battle Force Sixth Fleet. He also toured the USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7) and was briefed by Captain George D. Bess, Commander, Amphibious Force Sixth Fleet, on the capabilities of Navy and Marine Corps forces in the Mediterranean.

21 March – Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 (VMFA-323) of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (3d MAW) at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California, received the first of 12 F/A-18 “Hornet” aircraft. The “Death Rattlers” of VMFA-323 are the second 3d MAW squadron to convert to the strike fight jet.

22 March – The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) contract was awarded to AM General Corporation. A $59.8 million fixed price contract included an economic price adjustment for 2,334 vehicles with spare parts, provisioning support, publications, and training. This was the first of a five-year multi-year procurement. The total multi-year contract is $1,184,766,345 for 54,973 vehicles. The 5/4-ton HMMWV can be adapted for multiple missions, including reconnaissance, command and control, troop and weapons carrier, and utility roles.

24 March – President Reagan announced his intention to nominate General Paul X. Kelley, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and Chief of Staff since 1 July 1981, as the next Commandant of the Marine Corps. General Kelley was scheduled to succeed General Robert H. Barrow, Commandant of the Marine Corps, on 1 July 1983.

25 March – Retired Major General Samuel S. Jack who served with the 2d Marine Brigade in Nicaragua and commanded the Marine Corps, Navy, and Army fighter planes operating from Guadalcanal during World War II, died in San Diego, California. He was awarded the Navy Cross for actions in Nicaragua and three Legions of Merit during World War II and Korea.

26 March - 1 April – The presentation of the annual Navy League awards took place at the Navy League Convention in Washington, D.C. Five Marines were selected for the 1982 awards: Captain Kenneth T. McCabe, 2d Marine Division received the General John A. Lejeune Award for inspirational leadership; Colonel James M. Mead, Commanding Officer of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit and Master Sergeant Steven R. Head of the 2d Marine Division received the General Gerald C. Thomas Award for inspirational leadership; and CWO-4 Bruce M. Wincentsen of Marine Corps Development and Education Command, Quantico received the Rear Admiral William S. Parsons Award for scientific and technical progress.

27 March – Retired Brigadier General Samuel Blair Griffith II, 76, a decorated veteran of World War II and an authority on Chinese military history, died of respiratory arrest at the Newport Naval Regional Hospital in Newport, Rhode Island. In the 1930s General Griffith was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Peking as a Chinese language officer. He returned to China in 1946 and commanded Marine forces in Tsingtao for two years. After he retired from the Marine Corps in 1956, he took a doctorate in Chinese history at New College, Oxford University.

28 March – A CH-53 “Sea Stallion” helicopter from Marine Helicopter Squadron 362, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter), New River, North Carolina, crashed near San Simon, Arizona, while enroute to Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona. While flying, the tail section of the plane detached and caused the helicopter to crash. Six Marines were killed and one was injured.

5 April – The result of the third annual Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr. Award in Marine Corps History was announced at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Historical Foundation. The 1982 award went to Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Mattingly for “Who Knew Not Fear,” on article that appeared in Studies in Intelligence, a quarterly publication of the Central Intelligence Agency.

9 April – President Ronald Reagan designated this date as National POW/MIA Recognition Day in honor of all former American prisoners of war, those still missing, and their families. From World War I to the Vietnam conflict, more than 142,000 U.S. servicemen were taken prisoner and more than 1,700 died while in captivity. During the same period, more than 92,000 servicemen were lost in combat and their remains were never recovered.

11 April – Louis Gossett, Jr. won an Oscar for his performance as a Marine Corps drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” one of 1983’s romantic smash-hits. Mr. Gossett was also the first black performer in 20 years to win an Oscar.

15 April – The Commandant of the Marine Corps approved the Commemorative Renaming of a portion of Malecon Drive at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, in honor of General Edwin A. Pollock, USMC (Deceased).

17 April - 11 May – More than 47,000 persons from the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, and Air Force participated in Exercise “Solid Shield ‘83”. It was the 21st in a series of annual Commander in Chief Atlantic joint exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Fort Stewart, Georgia; and Morehead City, North Carolina. The exercise was designed to emphasize command and control of military forces in a simulated combat environment and included extensive air operations. Approximately 16,000 Marines from II Marine Amphibious Force and the 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade participated.

18 April – A large car bomb exploded just outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, causing massive structural damage including the collapse of portions of all seven floors. The French contingent of the multinational peacekeeping force in Beirut was first to respond and provided the initial security and relief efforts at the scene. Shortly afterward, U.S. Marines from the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit secured the area around the embassy. The explosion killed 61 people, including one Marine Security Guard and 16 other Americans, and wounded more than 100 persons. An Islamic group known as the Islamic or Muslim Holy War claimed responsibility for the attack.

25 April – A monument was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery to the three Marines and five airmen who died in the attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran during 1980.

26 April – Lance Corporal Robert McMaugh of Manassas, Virginia, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Corporal McMaugh, a Marine Security Guard at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, was one of 61 people killed when the embassy was bombed on 18 April. He was standing guard at Post 1, just inside the front entrance when the bomb exploded outside the door. The other seven Marine Security Guards in the building were wounded in the blast.

26 April – Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 was activated as part of Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter), New River, North Carolina.

27 April – The USS Nicholas (FFG-47), a guided missile frigate, was launched at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., former Commandant of the Marine Corps, was the principal speaker at the ceremony. The ship was named in honor of Major Samuel Nicholas, the Revolutionary War Marine considered to be the Corps’ first Commandant.

27 April – A CH-53D “Sea Stallion” helicopter from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter), New River, North Carolina, crashed in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The helicopter was conducting an amphibious assault rehearsal in conjunction with Exercise “Solid Shield ‘83.” The crash killed one Marine and injured three others.

5 May – In Beirut, Lebanon, a UH-1 Huey helicopter carrying the commander of the American peacekeeping force, Colonel James Mead, was hit by machine gun fire. The six Marines aboard escaped injury. Colonel Mead and his crew had taken off in the helicopter to investigate artillery and rocket duels between rival Syrian-backed Druze Muslim militiamen and Christian Phalangists that endangered French members of the multinational force.

7-21 May – The Commandant General of the United Kingdom’s Royal Marines, Lieutenant General Sir Steuart R. Pringle, visited the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert H. Barrow. The visiting general toured Marine Corps facilities in Washington, D.C. and southern California.

12 May – President Reagan nominated Lieutenant General John K. Davis, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific for promotion to full General and assignment as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. General Davis was scheduled to succeed General Paul X. Kelley, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1 July 1983.

15 May – The Veterans Administration dedicated its newest national cemetery in Quantico, Virginia. The first burial took place 16 May. The new cemetery will relieve pressures for burial space at Arlington National Cemetery which has been forced to restrict eligibility in recent years. Interment in the Quantico National Cemetery will be available to any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, regardless of rank or length of service. The creation and designation of the Quantico site was made possible when the Marine Corps transferred 725 acres of land to the Veterans Administration, thereby providing for the burial needs of more than 600,000 veterans and their dependents. When fully developed, the Quantico National Cemetery will include 275 interment acres, a memorial center, assembly areas, mausoleum, administrative and maintenance facilities, and a six-acre lake.

25 May – The Commandant of the Marine Corps announced the selection of Sergeant Major Robert E. Cleary as the next Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps effective 1 July 1983. Sergeant Major Cleary succeeded the retiring Sergeant Major Leland D. Crawford as the Marine Corps’ highest ranking enlisted Marine. He becomes the tenth Marine to hold the post.

26-27 May – General Robert H. Barrow, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sergeant Major Leland D. Crawford, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, visited with Marines and sailors of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit in Beirut, Lebanon. The Commandant presented Purple Heart Medals to five Marines who were wounded in a grenade attack on 16 March. He also presented 12 awards to French Marines for their assistance after the bombing of the U.S. Embassy on 18 April.

27 May – Two explosions occurred outside the American Embassy at Lima, Peru. Marines took up defensive positions. No further incidents occurred and there were no injuries.

29 May – The Marine Corps provided assault amphibian vehicle support to the state of Louisiana due to the imminent danger of the Mississippi River flooding the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana. The extent of damage was minor water seepage along the inboard side of the 18-mile long levee and an unknown amount of water absorbed by the levee itself. The support was requested by the governor of Louisiana.

30 May – Marines of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) took over peacekeeping duties in Beirut, Lebanon, and replaced 22d MAU Marines who had been ashore since 15 February 1983. The 24th MAU was commanded by Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty.

7 June – The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp at a Pentagon ceremony commemorating the 120th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. Local postmasters planned ceremonies to present special stamp albums to Medal of Honor recipients in their communities. There are 260 living Medal of Honor recipients including 47 Marines.

7-13 June – More than 30,000 Marine Corps and Navy personnel participated in Exercise “Valiant Blitz ‘83” on Okinawa, Japan. The exercise was designed to provide forces with training in amphibious landing techniques and operations ashore. “Valiant Blitz” involved approximately 3,000 Marines plus 20 ships and 250 aircraft. It was the biggest exercise on Okinawa since “Fortress Gale” in 1979.

14 June – A bomb exploded under a van outside the residence of Marines assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, damaging the vehicle but causing no injuries. The bombing came on the first anniversary of Argentina’s surrender to Britain in the 1982 Falklands war.

16 June - 13 December – Marines of the 2d Marine Division participated in Exercise “Unitas XXIV/West African Training Cruise 83” in the Caribbean, South American, and West African waters. It provided training opportunities and interactions for South American and West African Navies and Marine Corps to exercise in combined training operations and to support mutual interest in the defense of the free world. The exercise was conducted in eight phases followed by seven port visits to five West African countries.

17 June – Navy Hospital Corpsmen were honored at Camp Pendleton, California, with the dedication of the Hospital Corpsmen/Dental Technician/Marine Combat Memorial at the Naval Regional Medical Center. The monument was made by Oceanside, California, artist, Raul Avina, whose design was based on a scene he had witnessed at Iwo Jima while serving in the Marine Corps.

21 June – Marines of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) arrived at Key West, Florida, after serving as part of the international peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon, for four months. The 22d MAU was relieved in Beirut by the 24th MAU on 30 May 1983.

26 June – Before an estimated 3,400 Marines and visitors including President Ronald Reagan, the Commander in Chief, General Paul X. Kelley received the official battle color of the Marine Corps, relieving General Robert H. Barrow as Commandant of the Marine Corps. The ceremonies were conducted at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. General Kelley assumed command as the 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps and General Barrow officially retired. General Kelley’s command was effective 1 July 1983.

27 June – The U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador, was sprayed with gunfire by unknown assailants in two passing vehicles. Seconds later, a rocket fired at the building hit a nearby tree and exploded. There were no reports of injuries in the attack and only minor damage was inflicted upon the embassy building. The attack caused some alarm since the embassy is located in a residential sector of the city.

27 June – The 22d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) received a Navy Unit Commendation for meritorious service in Lebanon. The award was made during the promotion ceremony of Colonel James Mead, former commanding officer of the 22d MAU, to brigadier general.

30 June – The strength of the armed forces was 2,113,400 of which 193,993 were Marines.

5 July – Secretary of State, George Shultz, visited the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit in Beirut, Lebanon. A former Marine major who served in the Pacific during World War II, Secretary Shultz was enroute to Damascus, Syria, to discuss the withdrawal of Syrian and Israeli forces from Lebanon.

6 July - 1 August – More than 6,000 U.S. troops, along with air and sea support, participated in Exercise “Cobra Gold 83,” a joint military exercise with Thailand’s armed forces in and around the Gulf of Thailand. The exercise was designed to strengthen the ability of Thailand’s armed forces to defend their country. The exercise involved training in mine-laying and sweeping, explosive ordnance disposal, special warfare operations, simulated air and sea battle, and amphibious assault and shore operations by Thai and U.S. Marines. “Cobra Gold” was the first exercise for the USS New Jersey since it was recommissioned in 1982.

11 July – The U.S. Marine Band, the oldest continuously active military musical organization in the nation, observed its 185th birthday. A concert for the new Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley, was performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. with President Ronald Reagan in attendance. The Marine Band was under the leadership of Colonel John R. Bourgeois, its 25th director since its founding in 1798.

11 July – An exhibition of a new series of historical paintings titled “Marines in the Frigate Navy 1794-1834” by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Waterhouse opened at the Marine Corps Museum in Washington, D.C. The display illustrated Marine Corps activities during the first 40 years of the United States Navy. “Marines in the Frigate Navy” will remain on exhibition in the Marine Corps Museum through February 1984. It will then appear in a number of naval and maritime museums from Virginia to Massachusetts during 1984 - 1986.

18 July - 1 August – More than 2,000 Marine Corps reservists participated in a combined arms exercise “CAX 8-83” at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California. The live-fire exercise was designed to improve the proficiency of the reservists in all phases of modern combat skills. Scenarios involving all facets of Marine Corps combat training were brought into play as reservists combined forces and operated as they would under battle conditions. “CAX 8-83” also indoctrinated troops to techniques of desert warfare and survival.

22 July – A U.S. Marine stationed in Beirut, Lebanon, as part of the multinational peacekeeping force was hit by flying shrapnel and suffered a superficial shoulder wound when the Beirut International Airport came under heavy shellfire from unknown positions.

26 July – The 6th Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB) was activated by Lieutenant General John H. Miller, Commanding General Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The 6th MAB was activated as part of the Maritime Prepositioning Ship program designed to provide rapid introduction of combat forces anywhere they are needed.

29 July – Sergeant Charles A. Light, Jr. was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant and awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding service when the American Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was devastated by a car bomb last April. In a ceremony at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley, made the presentation to the former assistant non-commissioned officer in charge of the Marine Security Guard Detachment, U.S. Embassy, Beirut.

31 July – Unidentified gunmen fired a burst of shots at a group of U.S. Marines as they were jogging on the edge of their encampment near Beirut International Airport. The gunfire struck the ground between two groups of Marines jogging on the road and hit about 20-25 yards from the nearest Marine. There were no injuries. Jogging as part of the multinational peacekeeping force in Beirut, were changed after the attack.

10 August – U.S. Marines at the Beirut International Airport in Lebanon were on their highest state of alert following an airport shelling that wounded one Marine. The rocket attack by Druze militia in the mountains east of Beirut provided the opening shots for a day of warfare between Muslim militiamen and the government. Rockets also hit the Defense Ministry and the Presidential Palace. The daylong hostilities by Druze Muslims against the Christian government included the kidnapping of three cabinet ministers.

16-17 August – The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley, visited with Marines of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit in Beirut, Lebanon. In the Commandant’s press statement upon his arrival at the Beirut International Airport, he vowed that threats from Druze gunmen would not intimidate the 1,200 Marines in Lebanon. The Commandant later made a mobile/aerial tour of Marine positions.

17-24 August – Exercise “Bright Star/Eastern Wind 83,” a combined exercise involving military forces from the United States and Somalia, was held near Berbera, Somalia. The exercise was designed to allow forces of both nations to conduct combined training in a harsh desert environment and to enhance Somalia’s ability to defend itself. About 2,800 U.S. servicemen, including Marines from the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit and the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, participated in the exercise.

26 August – Captain Ronald L. King of Battery I, 3d Battalion, 12th Marines, 3d Marine Division was the recipient of the 1983 Leftwich Trophy, as the battery’s commanding officer. The Leftwich Trophy, an award for a captain in Fleet Marine Force who best exemplifies the principles of leadership, was presented to Captain King at the Evening Parade, Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.
28 August – Marines fought a 90-minute battle with militiamen thought to be Shiite Muslims in their first combat involvement since they went to Beirut, Lebanon, as part of the multinational peacekeeping force a year ago. The combat outpost manned by about 30 Marines and Lebanese army troops east of the Beirut International Airport came under fire by semiautomatic weapons and two rocket propelled grenades. The Marines returned the fire with M-16 rifles and M-60 machine guns. There were no Marine casualties.

29 August – Two Marines were killed and 14 were wounded when dozens of rocket, mortar, and artillery rounds landed in positions occupied by the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit on the eastern side of the Beirut International Airport. It was the second day of heavy fighting and the second day that the Marines struck back at their attackers.

31 August – The Department of Defense authorized hostile-fire pay for Marines and sailors of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit in Lebanon. Each of the 1,200 U.S. Marine peacekeepers serving in Lebanon were eligible for up to $65.00 a month extra pay. The authorization was under a Pentagon regulation that did not trigger any War Powers Act provisions.

2 September – President Ronald Reagan ordered a second 1,800 man amphibious unit to reinforce the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) in Lebanon. The 31st MAU was not expected to go ashore, but rather act as a back up force on board ship.

3 September – The 35th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) was activated for western Pacific contingency operations in relief of the 31st MAU ordered to Lebanon.

6 September – Two Marines were killed and two were wounded when rockets hit their compound in Beirut, Lebanon. Since 28 August 1983, when fighting broke out between Muslim and Christian militiamen and the Lebanese army, 4 Marines were killed and 24 were wounded. Heavy fighting continued for the peacekeeping force in the area near their positions around the Beirut International Airport.

8 September – The U.S. Navy unleashed its firepower in Lebanon for the first time destroying a Druze militia battery that shelled Beirut International Airport. The frigate Bowen fired four rounds from its five-inch guns as mountain fighting raged and the U.S. Marine base was shelled. Lieutenant General John H. Miller and Major General Alfred M. Gray were inspecting the Marine compound when the shelling started. Marine gunners responded with six rounds from a 155mm howitzer as the Bowen’s guns blasted away.

13 September – President Reagan authorized Marine commanders in Lebanon to call in air strikes from Navy fliers if such action is needed to defend U.S. troops in Beirut. Marines in Beirut could request air strikes from carrier-based fighters off shore and the request, if granted, would be approved locally, rather than in Washington. Additionally, such support could be sought if other troops in the multinational peacekeeping force were threatened or if threats to the Lebanese army could endanger the Marines.

14 September – The USS Tarawa, with its force of Harrier jets and combat helicopters, arrived off the coast of Lebanon bringing an additional 1,800 Marines into position to be deployed as needed. With the arrival of the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit, under the command of Colonel James H. Curd, the United States had a total of 14,000 Marines and sailors on shore and on board ships in the Beirut, Lebanon area.

15 September - 19 November – Exercise “Bold Eagle 84” took place at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Approximately 19,000 Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen participated in the exercise. It was the sixth in a continuing series of U.S. Readiness Command exercises. It was designed to exercise and evaluate participating commanders, staff and forces in joint service tactics, techniques and procedures employed by forces operating in a sophisticated air environment.

16 September – The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley, was the principal speaker at the keel-laying ceremony for the first two of thirteen maritime prepositioning ships (MPS) to be built at the Quincey, Massachusetts Shipbuilding Division of General Dynamics. General Kelley announced that the ships would be named in honor of two Marine Medal of Honor recipients: Second Lieutenant John P. Bobo and Private First Class Dewayne T. Williams. The MPS program is the key to the Rapid Deployment Force concept.

17 September – U. S. warships off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon, fired dozens of shells from their five-inch guns deep into Syrian-controlled parts of Lebanon. The Naval salvos marked the first time the United States responded to shelling on targets other than U.S. Marine positions around the Beirut International Airport. The naval gun fire from the destroyer John Rodgers and the frigate Bowen came in response to continued shelling in the area around the residence of U.S. Ambassador, Robert Dillon, and the Lebanese Defense Ministry about a mile from the ambassador’s house.

19-20 September – U.S. Navy warships shelled Syrian-backed Druze positions in the hills overlooking Beirut. A continuous, 15-minute barrage from the USS John Rodgers and USS Virginia were fired into the mountains. The battleships fired hundreds of five-inch shells, the heaviest naval bombardment since the Vietnam War, to stop anti-government Druze Muslim and Palestinian forces from taking the village of Souk el Gharb. It marked the first time U.S. naval gunfire was used directly in support of the Lebanese Army.

20 September – U.S. Marines operated on the Lebanese war front for the first time when six Marine and Lebanese army observers went to the front line of fighting between the U.S. backed Lebanese army and Druze Muslim militiamen near the village of Souk el Gharb. The observers relayed information to the Marines and to naval gunners as U.S. Navy ships bombarded Muslim positions.

20 September – The residence of the U.S. Ambassador, Robert Dillon, and the Lebanese Defense Ministry were bombarded by Syrian-backed insurgents in Beirut, Lebanon.

24 September – The Department of Defense announced that 1,600 Marines were ashore at Beirut, 400 more than the number called for in the agreement with Lebanon that set up the multinational force. Defense Department officials stated that the 400 extra men included members of ordinance disposal squads, public information units, and the American Forces Radio and Television staff. They also included American Embassy guard reinforcements, and communication, medical, Post Exchange, and helicopter maintenance personnel.

25 September – The USS New Jersey arrived off the coast of Lebanon to increase the firepower of the U.S. naval forces off Beirut. The USS New Jersey, capable of firing a one-ton shell 20 miles, would be able to shell anti-government artillery positions that hammered targets around the U.S. Marine peacekeeping force. The battleship joined 12 other American warships.

26 September – A cease-fire for Lebanon was announced by Saudi Arabian and Syrian officials in Damascus. The leader of the Druze force also announced that his troops were committed to the cease-fire. The U.S. Marines continued peacekeeping duties in Beirut as talks on the formation of a new coalition government began.

27 September – Two Marine aviators were injured when their AH-1T Cobra helicopter crashed into the sea. The USS Tarawa-based Cobra went down during a routine training mission about eight to nine miles from the beach adjacent to the Beirut International Airport. The cause of the accident was not a result of hostile fire. The two pilots were recovered shortly after the crash by a USS Tarawa search and rescue helicopter. The USS Tarawa was off-shore Beirut as a contingency to support U.S. Marine and Navy forces.

27 September – General Alfred Houston Noble, USMC (Retired), died at his home in La Jolla, California, at the age of 88. General Noble, who retired in 1956, was a company commander in World War I and was awarded a Navy Cross for gallantry in action during the battle of Belleau Wood. The highly decorated general served with the 1st Marine Amphibious Corps during World War II and was commanding general of Camp Pendleton, California, from 1950 – 1951.

29 September – The Senate voted to let the Reagan administration keep U.S. Marines in Lebanon for as many as 18 more months. The Senate approved a resolution essentially the same as the 18-month authorization passed by the House of Representatives on 28 September. The action by both chambers marked the first time Congress sought to invoke the War Powers Act which was passed in 1973 after U.S. troops were withdrawn from fighting in the undeclared war in Vietnam.

1 October – The Pentagon announced that the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit, an emergency force of about 2,000 U.S. Marines on board three American ships, was sailing toward the Indian Ocean reportedly to take up position off the Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the Persian Gulf. There was speculation that this move was linked to threats by Iran to blockade the strait and cut off the movement of oil tankers.

2 October – Major General Robert Blake, USMC (Retired), died at the age of 89 in Oakland, California. A combat veteran of both world wars, General Blake was twice awarded the Navy Cross for his actions at Belleau Wood in World War I and for bravery during fighting in Nicaragua.

4 October – Marine Air Control Squadron 1 (MACS-1) was activated at Camp Pendleton, California, as part of Marine Air Control Group 38, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing.

14 October – One Marine was killed and another Marine was wounded in a series of small-arms attacks near Beirut’s international airport as sporadic violations of the 26 September cease-fire continued. The incident erupted a three-hour exchange of fire between Marines and Muslim militiamen. This marked the first Marine killed since the start of the cease-fire which ended three weeks of fighting in the mountains east of Beirut between Lebanese Army and factional militias.

15 October – Lieutenant Colonel William G. Barnes, Jr., the former commanding officer of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 (HMM-263) that provided more than three months of accident-free airlift support for Marines in Beirut, received the Alfred A. Cunningham award for the Marine Corps Aviator of 1983 at the Marine Corps Association convention in San Diego, California. The CH-46 “Sea Knight” pilot earned the award for performance of duty with HMM-263, the aviation combat element of the 24th Marine Amphibious Force in Beirut, Lebanon from 29 October 1982 to 14 February 1983. HMM-263 was selected as the helicopter squadron of the year for 1983.

16 October – One Marine was killed and three other Marines were wounded as Muslim militiamen continued sporadic firing at peacekeeping troops in Beirut, Lebanon. The Marines responded by firing M-16 rifles and two Dragon rockets at a Muslim slum, the source of several attacks over the past few days. This marked the sixth combat death since the Marines arrived in Lebanon.

21 October – A ten-ship task force carrying 1,900 Marines of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit was ordered to head for Grenada to signal the United States’ intentions to protect American citizens on the Caribbean Island. The force was in the Caribbean and was on its way to Lebanon when the orders were received.

23 October – A suicide terrorist driving a truck loaded with explosives blew up the headquarters of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 220 and wounding approximately 70, the highest number of Marine casualties in a single day since World War II. 18 Navy and three Army U.S. servicemen were also killed in the blast. Almost simultaneously with the blast that devastated the Marine Corps building, a second suicide bomber drove a car into a building occupied by French paratroopers and destroyed it too.

23 October – An unspecified number of Marine replacements embarked for Beirut, Lebanon, to replace Marines killed or wounded by the terrorist attack. Major General Alfred M. Gray, commander of the 2d Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, said the departing troops would bring the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit back up to strength.

25 October – The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley, visited seriously wounded Marines from the Beirut terrorist bombing at the Wiesbaden, West Germany, Air Force hospital. General Kelley presented 16 purple hearts there.

25 October – General Paul X. Kelley, inspected the flattened Marine headquarters at the Beirut International Airport. He viewed the devastation caused by the 23 October terrorist bombing that left 241 Marines and other U.S. servicemen dead.

25 October – An American force of up to 1,900 Marines, from the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit, and Army Rangers invaded the leftist-ruled Caribbean nation of Grenada. The force seized two airfields and the campus of an American-run medical school in an action that President Ronald Reagan said he ordered to protect 1,100 United States citizens living on the island. The airborne American units were joined by 300 soldiers from six neighboring Caribbean states that asked the U.S. to intervene to restore order after a new leftist government took power a few days earlier. The landing was the first large-scale American military intervention in the Western Hemisphere since the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965. Three Marine aviators died in the operation.

26 October – Vice President George Bush inspected the devastated Marine building where a bomb killed 241 U.S. servicemen and said “insidious terrorist cowards” would not change U.S. foreign policy. Accompanying Vice President Bush on the tour were: Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley; Reginald Bartholomew, the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon; Colonel Timothy Geraghty, commander of the 1,600 Marines in Lebanon; and Mrs. Bush.

26 October – The Marine Corps took delivery of the first of its eight-wheeled, amphibious light armored vehicles, LAV-25s. Following a competitive evaluation in which U.S. armed forces compared vehicles from three manufacturers, a contract was awarded to Diesel Division, General Motors of Canada, Ltd. The joint Marine Corps/Army contract called for the delivery of 969 vehicles during a five-year period and options for 598 more vehicles.

29 October – Bodies of 14 Marines and one sailor killed in Beirut, Lebanon, on 23 October, arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, marking the first American casualties scheduled to return home in the upcoming weeks. The slain Marines were part of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The caskets, each draped with an American flag, were arranged in a row inside an aircraft hanger converted to a funeral chapel for the day’s ceremonies. The bodies of seven soldiers and one Marine killed in Grenada which arrived at Dover earlier, awaited their compatriots’ return along with the grieving families and U.S. military leaders including Marine Corps General Paul X. Kelley.

1 November – 300 Marines of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit staged an amphibious and helicopter landing on the island of Carriacou, a dependency 15 miles northeast of Grenada’s main island, in a search for Cuban military installations or personnel. 17 Grenadian soldiers were captured, and arms, ammunition and training sites were found.

2 November – Marines of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) pulled out of the Caribbean area and proceeded on route to Beirut, Lebanon, where the unit was scheduled to replace the 24th MAU later in the month.

4 November – President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan paid solemn tribute to the American servicemen killed and wounded in Grenada and Lebanon at a memorial service at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. A somber crowd of 5,000 assembled in the rain at Camp Lejeune’s natural amphitheater. Also in attendance were: Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley; Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger; Secretary of State, George Schultz; and National Security Advisor, Robert MacFarlane.

4 November – The Department of Defense Commission on the Beirut International Airport Terrorist Attack, October 23, 1983, was established. The Secretary of Defense directed that this Commission make a thorough investigation into all circumstances connected with the attack, and report to him it findings of fact and opinions relating to the attack, the Rules of Engagement then in force, the adequacy of security measures in place at the time of the explosion, and the adequacy of security measures subsequently established. Heading the Commission was Admiral Robert L.J. Long, USN (Retired).

6 November – Staff Sergeant Farley Simon, a native of Grenada, became the first Marine to win the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. Sergeant Simon, stationed at Camp Smith, Hawaii, completed the marathon in 2 hours, 17 minutes, and 45 seconds. More than 11,000 runners participated in the eighth annual marathon.

6 November – A religious service was held for the U.S. Marine Corps at the Washington Cathedral, Washington, D.C. It was the Marines’ turn for the yearly armed services religious gathering at the cathedral. The service paid special tribute to the Marines who died in the terrorist bombing in Beirut and in the invasion of Grenada. Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley and Sergeant Major Robert E. Cleary, the Marines’ top-ranking enlisted man, attended the hour-long service.

10 November – Major General Richard C. Schulze, USMC (Retired), died in Boca Raton, Florida. The decorated general, commissioned in 1951 served in the Korean War and the war in Vietnam. His assignments included: Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California; Inspector General of the Marine Corps; and Director, Personnel Management Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

10 November – U.S. Marines throughout the world celebrated the 208th birthday of the Marine Corps. On this date in 1775, the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia founded the Marine Corps. In his birthday message, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Paul X. Kelley, said, “If there is a word which more accurately describes pride than any other, that word is Marine.”

15 November – General Paul X. Kelley returned a salute to Lance Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, the Beirut bombing victim whose speechless devotion to the Marine Corps led him to scrawl “Semper Fi” as General Kelley stood by his hospital bed in West Germany on 25 October. In a brief ceremony at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland, General Kelley presented the Marine, from Rome, New York, a plaque containing his four-stars and the words “Semper Fi.”

15 November – General Paul X. Kelley, Commandant of the Marine Corps, upgraded the command of the Marine force in Lebanon from colonel to brigadier general. General Kelley said in a statement that the move was necessary so that the commander of the U.S. contingent would be on the same level as leaders of the French and Italian elements of the multinational force in the Beirut area.

18-25 November – Approximately 1,000 Marines of the 28th Marine Amphibious Unit joined over 500 Honduran infantrymen in a joint amphibious landing exercise, “Ahuas Tara” (Big Pine II), on the Honduran coast. The joint maneuver was a major event in a series of exercises at sea around Central America and in Honduras which began during the summer. “Big Pine II” was designed to exercise and evaluate objectives in defending Honduras, which borders Nicaragua.

19 November – Marines of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), took over peacekeeping duties in Beirut, Lebanon. Commanded by Brigadier General James R. Joy, the 22d MAU replaced the 24th MAU which was stationed in Beirut since 30 May 1983. The 1,800 Marines of the 22d MAU was on its way to Beirut when it was sent to Grenada in October. The 22d MAU was the fifth Marine unit to serve in Beirut since the multinational peacekeeping force entered Beirut 25 August 1982. It was also the second time the 22d MAU was deployed to Lebanon.

29 November – The Pentagon announced that the U.S. Central Command, responsible for protecting United States interests in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean area, would establish a small floating headquarters in that region. A staff of up to 20 officers and men would be placed aboard a Navy ship operating with a small flotilla of warships called the Middle East Force. The command could draw on a pool of thousands of Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel as needed for rapid deployment in a region covering 19 nations.

4 December – Eight Marines of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit were killed in Beirut, Lebanon, by heavy shelling from Syrian positions. In retaliation, U.S. Navy warships opened fire on the militia positions. Earlier on this day, 28 American warplanes went on their first combat mission in Lebanon and attacked Syrian positions in the mountains east of Beirut in retaliation for repeated Syrian attacks on U.S. reconnaissance planes. This marked the first combat use of U.S. aircraft in the Middle East and the highest number of Marines to die in Lebanon combat in one day since they went there in 1982.

7 December – Marines of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) arrived at Moorehead City, North Carolina, after six-months of duty in Beirut, Lebanon. The 24th MAU suffered a loss of 220 Marines in the 23 October bombing of their headquarters. The unit was composed of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 162, and MAU Service Support Group 24.

14 December – Marines assigned to the U.S. Embassy Security Guard Detachment at Kuwait responded when a bomb-laden truck crashed through the gate at the compound and exploded in one of a series of coordinated terrorist attacks. The embassy suffered considerable damage. There were no American casualties, but five persons were killed and 37 were injured. In addition to the U.S. embassy attack, other explosions rocked the French Embassy, the Kuwait airport control tower, a Kuwaiti power station, a Raytheon Company headquarters compound, and a separate residential facility.

15 December – The USS New Jersey opened fire with its 16-inch guns on antiaircraft positions in the Syrian-occupied mountains southeast of Beirut. Last used in action off the Vietnam Coast in 1968, the ship was joined in the second straight day of offshore shelling by two smaller ships. They sent projectiles into the hills in an effort to silence Syrian firing at U.S. reconnaissance flights over the area. This marked the first time the USS New Jersey was put into action since arriving off the Lebanese coast 25 September.

18 December – Retired Lieutenant General Carson A. Roberts, 78, died in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Upon his retirement in March 1964, General Roberts was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, from July 1962 to March 1964. Appointed a second lieutenant in 1929, the Marine aviator served in World War II and the Korean War. He was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery on 21 December.

23-27 December – Comedian Bob Hope, flanked by a host of U.S. stars, brought the Marines in Lebanon a bit of America as a Christmas present with shows filled with pretty girls and hometown songs. His first series of Christmas shows to U.S. troops overseas since the Vietnam War, the 80-year-old comedian and his troupe hop-scotched among three ships of the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet off the Lebanese coast. He also gave an unscheduled performance on Christmas Day to the Marines at their Beirut International Airport compound.

28 December – The Department of Defense Commission on the Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act released a 140 page unclassified report on the 23 October 1983 incident. A key recommendation by the Commission asked that the Secretary of Defense direct the development of doctrine, organization, force structure, education, and training necessary to defend against and counter terrorism.

31 December – The strength of the armed forces was 2,123,915 of which 193,858 were Marines.


Reference Branch
USMC History Division

Marine Corps University