President Francois Mitterrand on November 2 paid tribute to the 58 French paratroops killed in the suicide Beirut bomb blasts on October 23.
GV Flag-draped coffins in courtyard of Les Invalides military hospital
SV AND GVs President Mitterrand accompanied by senior officer presents military medals posthumously by placing them on coffins (French SOT) Officials and relatives watch (4 shots)
SV Woman in black headgear overcome with emotion
GVs AND SCU President Mitterrand takes salute as band plays funeral march and relatives watch (3 shots)
GVs Soldiers carry away coffins on their shoulders as paratroops form guard of honour; coffins pass President and high-ranking officers, who salute (3 shots)
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Background: President Francois Mitterrand on November 2 paid tribute to the 58 French paratroops killed in the suicide Beirut bomb blasts on October 23. The Requiem Mass in Paris was also attended by the President's entire cabinet and families of the dead. It marked the nation's largest single military loss since the Algerian war of independence twenty years ago. The coffins, draped with the Tricolore, were laid out in rows in the courtyard of Les Invalides, a military hospital originally built for casualties of the Napoleonic wars. All the victims were members of the First Paratroop Regiment, based in the Pyrenean town of Pau and most were volunteers. More than 220 United States marines also died on the same day in another suicide bomb attack on their Beirut headquarters. The President posthumously decorated those who died with the Legion d'Honour, France's top military medal. Former President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, and four former prime ministers were also in attendance. Speeches by the clergy called for peace and reconciliation in Lebanon--a reference to the peace talks then going on in Switzerland.