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December 04, 1983
Grey cold day—did radio broadcast & we took a walk. Then it was back at the fireside where I caught up on reading & some mail. That evening received call from MacFarlane that the Syrians had launched an anti-aircraft & ground to air missile attack against our unarmed recon. planes during one of their routine sweeps over Beirut. Permission from me was needed for a return air strike against the guilty batteries. I’d already received a call on this from Cap in Paris. I gave the order. Sun. morning got a call—we had taken out a communications center, some batteries & an ammo dump. Two of our planes (24) had been shot down. One pilot parachuted in safe territory & has been recovered. The other 2 in the 2nd plane parachuted in hostile zone we’ve heard that one was machine gunned but we’ve also heard they are both prisoners. We’re trying to get a confirmation & will open negotiations for their return. Back at the W.H. made statement to press—am now going to Rockville Jewish Commun. Center for a Hannakah ceremony. Then back to a reception honoring the 5 honorees of the J.F.K. Center For The Performing Arts—Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, Elia Kazan, Katherine Dunham & Virgil Thomson. A passel of our Hollywood friends will be here at the W.H. for the reception. It turned out to be a wonderful evening & a great show.