Provided by National Museum of the Marine Corps
“They Came in Peace,” a new temporary exhibit at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, opens on Sept. 25, 2023. This exhibit tells the stories of the Marines who conducted peacekeeping operations in Beirut, Lebanon, from 1982 to 1984 and the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) that landed on Grenada in 1983 as part of Operation Urgent Fury.
The exhibit honors the 241 soldiers, sailors, and Marines from the 24th MAU who lost their lives in the Oct. 23, 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport as part of the Museum’s commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of this tragic event. A memorial wall with the names of the fallen Service Members and a multimedia presentation incorporating contemporary footage of the bombing and interviews with surviving Marine veterans and next of kin of the fallen shows visitors the cost borne by the Marines of the 24th MAU and the impact the bombing has had to this day.
In 1982, Marines began a peacekeeping mission as part of a multinational force in war-torn Lebanon. The Marines and sailors on peacekeeping duty suffered 11 killed and 64 wounded during intermittent fighting before Oct. 23, 1983. On that date, a terrorist suicide bomber in a five-ton truck loaded with 2,000 pounds of explosives sped past a guard post at Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/8’s headquarters building, through a fence, into the building’s lobby, and detonated his bomb. The massive explosion and subsequent building collapse claimed the lives of 3 soldiers, 18 sailors, and 220 Marines. This was the greatest single-day loss of Marines since the Feb. 19, 1945 landing during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.
Six days before the attack, the 22d MAU sailed from North Carolina for the Mediterranean to participate in an exercise in Spain before relieving the 24th MAU in Lebanon. However, the amphibious squadron carrying the 22d MAU changed course toward the Caribbean at midnight on Oct. 20, 1983 to participate in Operation Urgent Fury on the small island nation of Grenada. The goal of the operation was to evacuate hundreds of American citizens and restore order following the outbreak of politically-motivated violence. The Marines from 22d MAU launched their invasion of Grenada on Oct. 25, 1983, and remained on the island until they withdrew to relieve the 24th MAU in Lebanon on Nov. 2, 1983; they began peace-keeping operations in Beirut on Nov. 19, 1984.
“They Came in Peace” highlights the Marine Corps’ flexibility as America’s naval expeditionary force in readiness and the bravery, determination, and sacrifice of Marines in Lebanon and Grenada.
About the National Museum of the Marine Corps
The Museum is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. The National Museum of the Marine Corps, under the command of Marine Corps University, preserves and exhibits the material history of the U.S. Marine Corps honors the commitment, accomplishments, and sacrifices of Marines; supports recruitment, training, education, and retention of Marines; and provides the public with a readily accessible platform for the exploration of Marine Corps history. It is located at 1775 Semper Fidelis Way in Triangle. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call 703-784-6107 or visit usmcmuseum.com.