Thomas P. Thorstad, Beirut Bombing CasualtyCasualty of the Beirut, Lebanon, Marine barracks bombing . . . .
In the Beirut Marine barracks bombing on October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon, which took place during the Lebanese Civil War, two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces. These forces were members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon. A total of 299 servicemen were killed in the bombing, including 220 United States Marines. The organization Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing, but that organization is thought to have been a nom de guerre for Hezbollah, which is believed to have received assistance from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Suicide bombers detonated each of the truck bombs. The explosives used at the Marine barracks were equivalent to 12,000 pounds of TNT. Two minutes later, a similar attack leveled the eight-story Drakkar building, killing 58 French paratroopers from Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes. In the attack on the American barracks, the death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel, and three Army soldiers, along with sixty Americans injured, representing the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II, the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States military since the first day of the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, and the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II. In the attack on the French barracks, 58 paratroopers were killed and 15 injured, in the single worst military loss for France since the end of the Algerian War. The elderly Lebanese custodian of the Marines' building also perished in the first blast. The bombings 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 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
Thorstad, Thomas Paul
Staff Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
Date of Birth: July 18, 1956
Date of Death: October 23, 1983
Burial: Chesterton Cemetery
Chesterton Couple Recalls Son's Sacrifice, Service 30 Years After Beirut Bombing
By John Scheibel
CHESTERTON | People here still remember the sacrifice of Staff Sgt. Thomas Thorstad 30 years ago.
The 27-year-old Marine was one of 241 soldiers, sailors and Marines killed in the Oct. 23, 1983 bombing of the First Battalion, 8th Marines Headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon.
When U.S., French and Italian forces were asked to serve as peacekeeper in Lebanon the prior year, Thorstad was among the Americans called to serve.
Jim and Barbara Thorstad said it’s no surprise he was sent. He was a fine Marine, they said.
“He was a volunteer, he loved his country, he joined the Marine Corps – that was about it,” Jim said on Tuesday when asked to describe his son.
The Thorstads are spending this anniversary at home, but have spent many of the previous anniversaries at Camp Lejune, N.C., where a ceremony is held every five years to pay tribute to the fallen troops.
The trip provided them comfort and support over the years, Jim Thorstad said, meeting with families who dealt with the same sacrifice.
The Chesterton community also remembers their son, Jim Thorstad said noting someone in town mentioned his son in the past few days.
He was well liked, they said, noting his sense of humor.
“He was a clown – everybody liked him because he was funny,” said his father.
But he was also patriotic, a trait that led to his enlistment in the Marine Corps after graduating from Chesterton High School in 1974.
His parents said he didn’t want to go to college, and were surprised how much time he spent in training in the Marines.
That training in several areas – including counterintelligence – brought him respect in the Marine Corps.
And from his family.
Staff Sgt. Thorstad left behind a wife and two sons.
Despite his death, their family remains close, Jim Thorstad said. They gather regularly for holidays – times when they think about, and miss, their son.
The Thorstads, however, said they remain frustrated with U.S. policy that has kept servicemen and women in the Middle East.
A statement they released to local newspapers question what the U.S. has accomplished in the last 30 years and suggests policy-makers remove our troops from the region.
Source: The Times, Munster, Lake County, Indiana; October 22, 2013
Information prepared by Steven R. Shook