Between the War for Independence and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the armed forces of the United States have participated in twenty-one principal wars and in numerous smaller conflicts and operations. In each of these American men and women have paid a high price for the nation's freedom, selflessly sacrificing life or limb for an honorable cause.
Principal sources of information for the figures, explanatory text and illustrations appearing below include the National Archives and Records Administration; U.S. Navy Historical Center; Department of Defense; Department of Veterans Affairs; and The Oxford Companion to American Military History, from which all quotations are taken.
Lebanon Peacekeeping Mission, 1982 - 1984
President Eisenhower focused American attention on the Middle East in 1957, calling that part of the world vital to U.S. security interests. Provoked first by the establishment of the anti-American President and Mrs. Reagan visit survivors of Lebanon bombing. United Arab Republic, then by he outbreak of civil war in Lebanon, and finally by the fall of the pro-Western government in Iraq, all of which occurred between January and July 1958, the president dispatched three Marine Corps landing teams to Lebanon that summer, along with a contingent of U.S. Army airborne troops. When a truce settled the Lebanese civil war a few months later, all 15,000 American soldiers were withdrawn. American forces arrived on the scene once again in August 1982, having been ordered there by President Reagan in order to help restore stability in the wake of the Israeli invasion earlier that summer. 800 men of the 32nd Marine Amphibious Unit remained in country for fifteen days, and were replaced shortly thereafter by Army Special Forces units and another force of Marines that "went ashore amid lavish press coverage and promptly became targets of snipers and occasional artillery fire."
Seventeen Americans fell victim to a truck bombing near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in mid-April 1983. In a horrendous lapse of security six months later, on 23 October, a terrorist drove another truck-bomb onto the Marine base near the Beirut airport, detonating the bomb at the headquarters building, killing 241 of the 300 Marines then asleep inside. By the following February, the Marines and Army units withdrew, abandoning the multinational peacekeeping effort of which they had been a part.