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Two of the biggest events of 1983 occur during one busy week in October. A powerful truck bomb destroys the U.S. Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241. Days later, the United States launches an invasion of Grenada, capturing the Caribbean Island from a Cuban-backed government.

  • Benigno Aquino assassinated
  • Korean airliner shot down
  • Wells Fargo heist
  • Beirut bombing
  • U.S. invades Grenada


  • Benigno Aquino assassinated -- August 21, 1983

    Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino was assassinated minutes after he arrived at the Manila airport. President Ferdinand Marcos denied responsibility for the act and appointed an investigative panel of five judges -- all friends of his. A witness testified Aquino was surrounded by soldiers when he was shot. Another witness said Aquino was shot by the soldiers. Aquino had intended to run against Marcos in the 1984 election and was considered a strong rival. His wife, Corazon, led anti-Marcos rallies and demanded Marcos' resignation.

    Aquino
    (wtn)
    CNN coverage of the assassination:
    1.7 M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 4.4 M QuickTime Movie (320x240)


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    Soviets shoot down Korean airliner -- September 1, 1983

    Soviet fighters shot down a Korean commercial airliner, killing 269, when it strayed over sensitive Soviet territory. For unexplained reasons, KAL Flight 007, en route from New York to Seoul, had deviated from its scheduled route and drifted 300 miles into Soviet airspace. The U.S.S.R. admitted shooting down the plane but denied knowing it was a civilian airliner. Soviet officials alleged the airliner was on a spy mission and had not responded to warnings. U.S. leaders condemned the act.

    CNN wrap:
    1.6M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 7.5M QuickTime Movie (320x240)


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    $7 million taken in Wells Fargo heist -- September 12, 1983

    In the second largest theft in U.S. history, an employee of Wells Fargo makes off with $7 million in cash from a company warehouse in Connecticut. Victor M. Gerena, a company guard accused of staging the heist, was one of 19 people later indicted in U.S. District Court for the theft. He escaped to Cuba with part of the $7 million he allegedly stole.

    CNN reports the heist:
    1.1M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 2.3M QuickTime Movie (320x240)


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    Blast levels U.S. Marine headquarters in Lebanon -- October 23, 1983

    On October 23, a powerful truck bomb destroys the U.S. Marine compound at the Beirut airport in Lebanon, killing 241. Almost simlutaneously, a second truck bomb explodes at a French paratroop barracks 2 miles away, killing 58. Both buildings are reduced to rubble, and survivors quickly organize into teams in a desperate struggle to pry their comrades from the tangled wreckage. The bombers are killed in the explosion and U.S. officials blame groups allied with Iran or Syria.

    The bombing scene:
    896K QuickTime Movie (160x120) 1.5M QuickTime Movie (320x240)


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    Reagan orders Grenada invasion -- October 25, 1983

    President Reagan orders U.S. Marines and Army Rangers to invade Grenada, citing a takeover of the tiny Caribbean Island by "a brutal group of leftist thugs." U.S. troops, along with a small force from six Caribbean nations, overcome surprisingly strong resistance from Cubans, who support the island's new regime. A day after the invasion, the troops begin evacuating 1,100 U.S. citizens on the island.

    Invasion overview:
    1.2M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 2.4M QuickTime Movie (320x240)


    1980 -- 1981 -- 1982 -- 1983 -- 1984 -- 1985 -- 1986 -- 1987 -- 1988 -- 1989 -- 1990 -- 1991 -- 1992 -- 1993 -- 1994 -- 1995 -- 1996 -- 1997

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