FT. SNELLING, Minn. (KMSP) - It was a night of remembrance at Fort Snelling National Cemetery on the 35th anniversary of a barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.
It was October 23, 1983 when a truck bomb went off outside the Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon killing 241 U.S. servicemen, who were there to keep the peace during the Lebanese Civil War. Four Minnesota Marines were killed in that attack. It was the deadliest day for the Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The impact is still being felt in Minnesota more than three decades later.
"October rolls around people look forward to Halloween - not me,” said Doug Anderson, a former Marine. “It gets hard on me to remember what happened that day and what I was doing when that happens."
Of the four Marines from Minnesota who died in the attack, two are buried at Fort Snelling along with one who returned to the States shortly before the bombing and took his own life after learning his fellow Marines had been killed.
"Many people thought the event had been forgotten,” said Patricia Boyd Peerson, an organizer of the event. “These men had been forgotten. We talked to some of the families and we promised them we'd never forget. We have a ceremony every year now."
Chris Osmera was best friends with John Tishmack of Minneapolis in high school. She says she and some of his friends were planning a coming home party for Tishmack the night he was killed.
"It sounds corny, but there's probably not a day that goes by that I don't think of him,” said Osmera. “So I try to respect him and pay tribute to him and come here every year to support him."
The Marines may have decades ago halfway around the world, but their loved ones hope their sacrifice will live on forever at home.
"Very important never to forget what happened on this day in history," said Anderson.
This is the fifth year there has been a ceremony to honor the Minnesotans who died in the Beirut barracks bombing. The organizer says this year for the first time, the families of the fallen were invited to the White House for a special reception for the 35th anniversary.