On October 23, 1983, the Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut were attacked when two truck bombs struck separate buildings that housed United States and French military forces in Lebanon, killing 241 American servicemen (220 Marines, 18 Sailors and three Soldiers). Another 128 Americans were wounded in the blast. Thirteen later died of their injuries, and they are numbered among the total who died. A total of 59 French military members were also killed in the attack.
This attack was the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima.
These attacks eventually led to the withdrawal of the international peacekeeping force from Lebanon, where they had been stationed since the withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
The SIGINT team assigned to this mission was from the 2nd Radio Battalion. Listed below were those Marines who were involved in intelligence activities killed as a result of the attack:
Capt Walter WINT S-2, 24th MAU Wilkes-Barre, PA
MSgt John PEARSON S-2, Chief, BLT, 1/8 Jacksonville, NC
SSgt Thomas THORSTAD CI Attached Chesterton, IN
SSgt Kevin COULMAN CI Attached Seminary, NY
Sgt Ronald GARCIA 2nd ITT, Attached Jacksonville, NC
The explosives used were later estimated to be equivalent to as much as 21,000 pounds of TNT. An obscure group calling itself ‘Islamic Jihad’ claimed responsibility for the bombings.