(FOX NEWS) It was Oct. 21, 1983, when the parents of Lt. William Scott Sommerhof received a letter from the 25-year-old Marine serving in Beirut, who wrote of his excitement to be returning home soon and who had already begun his Christmas shopping.

Two days later, Sommerhof and 240 other U.S. military personnel  were killed when suicide bombers detonated two trucks of explosives at military barracks in Lebanon in the first major terrorist attack against the U.S. The attack was the deadliest day for the United States Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, and produced the highest death toll for the U.S. military since the first day of the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War.

For the families of those killed, three decades and many more terror attacks have not diminished the memory of soldiers and sailors who paid the ultimate price in the savage bombing that ushered in an age of terror.

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