Grenada 1983: On This Day in History, Reagan’s USA Invades Tiny Island Nation

Reagan's greatest military victory comes as he invades tiny island with few resisters to defeat communism


On this 25th day of October in 1983 U.S. President Ronald Reagan, citing the threat posed to American nationals on the Caribbean nation of Grenada by that nation’s Marxist regime, orders the Marines to invade and secure their safety.

There were nearly 1,000 Americans in Grenada at the time, many of them students at the island’s medical school. In little more than a week, Grenada’s government was overthrown.

The situation on Grenada had been of concern to American officials since 1979, when the leftist Maurice Bishop seized power and began to develop close relations with Cuba. In 1983, another Marxist, Bernard Coard, had Bishop assassinated and took control of the government. Protesters clashed with the new government and violence escalated.

Citing the danger to the U.S. citizens in Grenada, Reagan ordered nearly 2,000 U.S. troops into the island, where they soon found themselves facing opposition from Grenadan armed forces and groups of Cuban military engineers, in Grenada to repair and expand the island’s airport. Matters were not helped by the fact that U.S. forces had to rely on minimal intelligence about the situation. (The maps used by many of them were, in fact, old tourist maps of the island.)

Reagan ordered in more troops, and by the time the fighting was done, nearly 6,000 U.S. troops were in Grenada. Nearly 20 of these troops were killed and over a hundred wounded; over 60 Grenadan and Cuban troops were killed. Coard’s government collapsed and was replaced by one acceptable to the United States.

A number of Americans were skeptical of Reagan’s defense of the invasion, noting that it took place just days after a disastrous explosion in a U.S. military installation in Lebanon killed over 240 U.S. troops, calling into question the use of military force to achieve U.S. goals.

Nevertheless, Reagan, or as many called him “RONBO” (in satirical reference to the infamous RAMBO movies out at the time), claimed a great victory, calling it the first “rollback” of communist influence since the beginning of the Cold War.

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  1. when has the usa either picked a fair fight or one for the right reasons? never. all that stolen glory reeks.

  2. Strangeness. We got a 24 hour notice of deployment being with 23rd TFW in England AFB La.. I was a “fuely” and totally expected to go. When I got up, my dogtags were missing from my locker. I notified and was told, there would be a machine and new ones would be available on the flight line at processing. Later, I was told the machine was broke, and I would stay behind. The place emptied out. During my shift, I ran the coms, and drove the truck as often was the case on weekend nights just one guy was needed. Some days later a C-5 landed, and I got the call for fuel. It parked way out in a way I had not seen, and I delivered the trucks to a point, where the ground crew took over. Red ropes in a big circle and threats of being shot. Never saw that before either.

    • …that before either. Years later, reading VT, I saw an article by Chip Tatum describing his adventures and a story about being shot down there. I immediately remembered the same type of bird he described being offloaded from the C5. They had two of them, and they switched them around from back to front. I was about 300 yards away but got a clear view of the one being reloaded to the rear and it had a 3-4 foot diameter hole in the side door area. I remember thinking when I saw it, wow, that guy took a hit, but looks like he might have made it. The tail was intact, and it looked otherwise capable, sort of.

    • Anyway, I hope my little Forest Gump moment helps in some small way to corroborate Chip Tatum’s story. The picture he had in the article matches the helo I saw. I wonder now, if the whole thing was a reclamation of “something stolen” during the “war on drugs”. It would not surprise me a bit, based on other “weird” things I experienced during my time there. Among them, a strange tale from my “weird” civilian roommate of being caught by Texas State Troopers with a U-haul full of stolen weaponry after he came back from being missing for 3 days. He was “free”, but he had to go fishing with the sheriff that weekend. Such is life in the deep south. Home of Edwin Edwards vs David Duke for Gov. Ha !

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