On October 23, 1983, at about 6:20 a.m. on Sunday morning, a yellow Mercedes stake-bed truck crashed into the lobby of the barracks for the 1st Battalion 8th Marines before the driver detonated a suicide bomb. 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 56 French soldiers.
The nine Marines from Rhode Island who perished included two brothers-in-law: Cpl. Stephen E. Spencer, 23, of Portsmouth; and Lance Cpl. James F. Silvia, 20, of Middletown. Also killed were PFC Thomas Julian, 21, a 1979 graduate of Portsmouth High School; Cpl. Edward Soares Jr., 21, of Tiverton; and Sgt. Timothy Giblin of Providence, Cpl. David C. Massa of Warren, Cpl. Thomas A. Shipp of Woonsocket, Cpl. Rick R. Crudals of West Warwick and Cpl. Edward S. Iacovino Jr. of Warwick.
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 memory of the RI marines killed in this tragedy, which included PFC Thomas Julian, 21, a 1979 graduate of Portsmouth High School who cut the lawn here at Portsmouth Historical Society as a high school student.