Research and text by Dave Duggan

On October 23, 1983, at about 6:20 a.m. on a Sunday morning, a yellow Mercedes truck crashed into the lobby of the barracks for the 1st Battalion 8th Marines. Then the driver detonated a suicide bomb killing 241 servicemen. FBI forensics experts later determined the bomb was the equivalent to about 12,000 pounds of T.N.T. and was the largest non-nuclear blast since World War II. Across town, a second suicide attack killed 58 French soldiers.

You can read the names on the plaque of the nine Marines from Rhode Island who perished. They came from all over the state including two from Portsmouth: Corporal Stephen Spencer, and Private First Class Thomas Julian, a graduate of Portsmouth High School.

Duty called these Marines and they responded — and they gave their last full measure. They are forever part of a brotherhood that doesn’t feel self-pity but is willing to serve as our nation’s guardians.

This memorial was placed by Shirley Zdanuck in 1984 in memory of the Rhode Island marines killed in this tragedy including PFC Thomas Julian, who as a high school student, used to cut the lawn here at the Portsmouth Historical Society.