The Hostage Rescue Attempt In Iran, April 24-25, 1980

The Iran hostage crisis began November 4, 1979, 
when a mob of Iranians seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, 
taking a large group of employees hostage. 
Eleven months earlier, a revolution led by the 
Islamic fundamentalist Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini 
had overthrown Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran.

Nineteen hostages were released within a few weeks; 
the remaining fifty-two were held for 444 days. 
When it became clear that the Iranian government 
was not going to resolve the problem. 

President Jimmy Carter moved to freeze Iranian assets, 
both in the United States and abroad. 
Diplomatic efforts were launched through the United Nations 
and various private intermediaries, but by March 1980 it had 
become clear that none of the rival political groups in Iran 
was willing to risk the unpopularity of letting the hostages go. 
This impasse led Carter to order a rescue effort by helicopter, 
but three of the eight helicopters failed before reaching Tehran, 
and the mission had to be aborted. Eight men died in the operation.

President Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in November, 1980. 
During that time a  new Iranian government had been formed, 
and serious negotiations began soon after, with Algeria as mediator. 
The United States agreed to unfreeze most Iranian assets in 
exchange for the hostages. 

Finally, on January 20, 1981 - 
only a few hours after Carter left office - 
all fifty-two hostages were released and 
landed safely in West Germany


Overtaking the Embassy 


The Iranian revolution may have started in September of 1978. 
Iranians were quite upset at the Shah and took to the streets. 
'Students' from the universities marched and the people took 
to the streets with them. 
It cannot be denied that the Shah killed thousands of people during his reign.

The actions of the Mullahs were even worse than the Shah's. 
The Mullahs have murdered more than the Shah did, 
and that number was greater than 50,000 in the first year 
of the Ayatollah Khomenie's reign alone, 
with some people totaling the deaths at greater than 1 million as of 2003. 

The Mullah's did this for religious reasons, too, not just because of threats of overthrow. 
Also, almost 9000 Iranian Army personnel were killed 
by the Ayatollah Khomeini in his first year alone.

On September 8, 1978, the students of Iran had been holding protests 
at their universities for some time, but this day, the Shah sent in troops 
to stop the riots and killed hundreds of students. 
This day became known as 'Black Friday' in Iran.



When the Shah left Iran, he was pretty much ignored by the rest of the world. 
In fact, most countries refused to have anything to do with him. 
Egypt's Anwar Sadat allowed the Shah to live there for a short time. 
It is after the Shah left Iran, that Khomeni returned.


Ayatollah Khomeni returned from exile in France 
where the Shah had banished him. 
He was a national hero to the Iranians.

November 4, 1979 'Students' of Iran, 
stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, 
seizing Americans at gunpoint and holding them as prisoners, 
or to be technically correct, Hostages, 
held for a political purpose, 
and that purpose was to unite Iran as a nation, 
and to humiliate the United States.



The Ayatollah knew all that was happening. 
Students who lead and mostly organized the 
uprising brought back information to the Ayatollah Khomeini



The American Embassy was a large complex, 
with many buildings. Here are some photos of the Embassy itself. 
This is the Embassy wall, and some graffiti written on the wall. 
The English says, "We will make America face a severe defeat"









Among the many phrases chanted by the Iranian mobs was the phrase: 



They demanded that U.S. return deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, 
who has been admitted to U.S. for medical treatment.
The U.N. Security Council called on the Iranian militants to free all American hostages.



Americans held as hostages illegally by Iranians in Tehran.


These Americans were not the ones who might 
have been connected to SAVAK, the Shah's secret Army, 
nor were they anyone the Iranians had to fear, 
they were just embassy personnel, and Marines, 
who traditionally guarded American Embassies.


Iranian Criminals called on the death of Americans 
if force was used to retaliate against Iran. 
This criminal's name was Abdi.



This man, Ibrahim Asgharzadeh  is one of the student leaders



Some personal accounts:


From Tim Wells, editor. 

444 Days: The Hostages Remember

John Limbert (political officer): November 4 had been proclaimed 
Student Day, and there was going to be a march and rally at the 
University of Tehran. The university is in the western part of the city. 
The routes of march for people going to the rally from the east or 
northeast would lead in front of the embassy. It was quite normal 
for marchers to pass the embassy on their way to some kind of 
gathering at the university, and as they went by, to shout some 
anti-American slogans. That morning groups started going by, and 
occasionally we would hear their anti-American slogans. There was 
not anything unusual about this.
I was down on the ground floor of the embassy near the marine 
station right at the front door. It must've been about 10:30, 
perhaps 10:40, when the students started coming over the wall. 
There were some closed-circuit television cameras around the 
embassy, and I could see it on the television monitor. We had very 
heavy iron doors at the south and main entrances, which were 
immediately shut. They were very heavy doors. They could resist 
almost anything short of a bazooka. I can't remember there being 
any panic. The marines clearly knew what they were doing.
The militants took me downstairs and out the front door. I was very 
relieved to get out of that gas and smoke. It was rainy and cold. It 
was good to be in the fresh air. I was feeling relieved to be alive. 
At that point, I remember thinking, being alive was a pretty good thing.

Lee Schatz (agricultural attaché: at his office across the 
street from the embassy compound: When they entered the 
compound, they split and went off in two different directions. 
Which seemed odd. you'd think that if a crowd was hyped up 
and ready to . . . take the embassy, the normal impulse would 
have been for everyone to rush straight up to the chancery. 
But they took off in two different directions, with one group 
heading back toward the consulate. Instead of a mad rush 
at the chancery, it appeared that some people were 
stationed at strategic observation points, where they were 
close enough to holler from one person to the other. You 
know, someone would stop and stand by the corner of a 
building where he had a clear view of the courtyard or the 
motor pool. It had the appearance of something that was well planned.

Sgt. William Quarles (marine security guard, 
at the Bijon Apartments):
I was just trying to be cool. I said, 
"I can't believe this. I don't believe these little knuckleheads think they're
 going to take over the embassy." You know, I was really pissed. I kept 
saying, "What in the hell do they think they're doing? They can't do this. 
They think they're going to take over the American embassy with all these 
marines around?" 
I was really eager to go over there and kick somebody's ass. I really was. 
I just wanted to bang a few heads."

Victor Tomseth (chief political officer): That day was a double 
anniversary. I think it was the anniversary of the day that Khomeini 
had gone off into exile in Turkey back in 1964, and also the first 
anniversary of a major riot in Tehran during which people had been 
killed at Tehran University. So there was a demonstration scheduled 
for that day. We had our staff meeting the first thing in the morning, 
and I remember the main debate was whether we should lower our 
flag to half-mast in recognition of the anniversary on which these 
three our four people had been killed at Tehran University. It was
decided that we would not lower the flag.

John Graves (public affairs officer): I happened to be at the 
window of the press office where I could actually see the gate, the 
main gate. I don't know quite how it opened; normally there's a big
chain around it. But all of a sudden the gates opened and the first 
flood of students came in. They were mostly women carrying signs 
like: "Don't be afraid. We just want to set in." Set, not sit. No sign of 
weapons or anything like that. It didn't look at all serious.

Joe Hall (warrant officer, at the chancery): We had a radio in 
our office so we could hear what the marines and security officers 
were saying to one another. That way we could keep up with what 
the hell was going on. "Bulldog" was the code name for the security 
officer, Al Golancinski. Suddenly I heard on the radio, 
"Bulldog, someone's cut the chain on the gate and there are two or 
three Iranians inside.
The Iranians got into the basement real quick. At the time, I was in 
the defense attaché office on the main floor, and we were wondering 
what the hell to do with our classified stuff. We'd actually been pulling 
documents out of the files in order to destroy them, when the word 
came through that the militants had managed to get into the basement.
Everybody was immediately ordered upstairs to the second floor. We 
hought, well shit, we can't carry our classified stuff with us. If the 
militants did get through, we'd meet them in the hallway with our hands 
full. So Colonel Schaefer said, "Let's lock it up." We put all the classified 
documents in the safes and spun the dials.

Malcolm Kalp (economics officer, at the chancery): Gradually 
everybody filtered upstairs. We cleaned out the basement . . . and the 
first floor, and got everybody up there--the Americans as well as the 
Iranian workers. Everybody sat along the walls on either side of the hall. 
The marines came around and started giving out gas masks.

Bill Belk (communications officer, at the chancery): The Iranians 
swarmed in. One guy looked at me and said, "Walk out the door." So I 
walked out the door. Two guys grabbed me, one on either side, put my 
hands behind my back, and tied my hands. They had a long nylon rope 
that they used to tie us up. After my hands were tied, this guy tried to
cut the rope with a knife. The rope slipped and he gouged me, stabbed 
me in the back. They blindfolded me, and I didn't know what to do. I'd 
never experienced a blindfold before. I thought maybe they were going 
to take us out and shoot us. I just didn't know what to expect.

Col. Charles Scott (chief of the Defense Liaison Office, 
at the chancery):
When the time came to surrender, everyone 
conducted themselves in an exemplary manner. There was a 
feeling of genuine fear among all of us, but there wasn't any panic. 
No one was yelling or screaming or falling apart. A couple of our 
Iranian employees were hysterical, but all of the Americans 
took it calmly, and did what they were supposed to do in order to 
avoid any unnecessary violence.










Photo above are Iranians in America protesting 
against the Shah and the United States!


Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini denounced the United States 
as the “Great Satan”. Khomeini encouraged partisans 
to seize the U.S. embassy culminating in the Iranian hostage crisis. 
He also help start a war with neighboring Iraq which 
lasted eight years. He ruled Iran until his death in 1989 .


They actually made stamps of what they did.


The hostages were moved around and separated. 
They spent many of the 444 days that they were held hostage 
in the embassy compound and in an Iranian jail. 
Some of them were tortured and threatened in an attempt 
to get information and thirteen Americans, mostly women and blacks, 
were allowed to return to the United States. 
The conditions in which the hostages were kept were miserable.


Khomeini had total control of Iran and the hostages. 
In response, Carter froze Iran’s multi-billion dollar assets in America, 
further damaging relations. However, he stated in a press conference, 
“I am not going to take any military action that would cause bloodshed... 
We’re going to be very moderate, very cautious...” (444 Days). 
And that seemed to be his policy for the first few months.

Carter had planned the Mission to happen this way:

Six aircraft and eight helicopters were to fly from the USS Nimitz i
n the Arabian Sea, and land on an airfield in Southern Iran. 
From there the helicopters would fly into a stadium adjacent 
to the United States Embassy compound and troops would force 
an entry into the embassy, rescue the hostages and return to the USS Nimitz. 
Unfortunately, two of the helicopters were lost due to technical 
failures in the first leg of the mission. 

This left the bare minimum of helicopters needed to rescue all the hostages. 
When a terrible accident resulted in the destruction of another helicopter
 and a cargo plane and the death of eight officers, Carter aborted the mission. 
Due to all of this the negotiations were slowed further.


Helicopters from the USS Nimitz took off from the flight deck on April 24, 1980, 
with hopes to rendezvous with Air Force C-130's at a location known 
as Desert One. From there, they were to re-fuel, then fly to a second 
site known as Desert 2. After an short stay there, they were to assault 
the American Embassy, and re-capture the hostages.
 RH-53s being pre-flighted  aboard USS Nimitz before launching on the mission 
where they would be stymied by dust clouds and various systems failures.
 Eagle Claw was aborted when three helicopters could not complete the mission.



Eight men died during the aborted attempt to 
rescue American hostages held captive in Iran. 
Five of them were airmen from the 
8th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla. 
They  were Marine helicopter crewmen.


“Take solace in the fact that what they did only a few could even attempt,” 
said Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, 
the commander of Alaskan Command, 
at a 20th anniversary commemorative ceremony 
at Hurlburt Field, Fla. 
“What they did was keep the promise. They had the guts to try.”





This is the Memorial Marker for the Brave Men 
that gave their lives in service to their country on April 25, 1980, 
during what has become known as the Hostage Rescue Attempt  
dedicated to those men that died, and to those men that served 
with them in trying to rescue those Americans held illegally 
by the Iranian Government for 444 days. 
Let us remember these names always. 
These men gave their lives trying to free good men and women. 
They did not die in vain.


Three of these men were United States Marines: 
Sgt. John D. Harvey, 21
Cpl. George N. Holmes, 22
SSgt. Dewey L. Johnson, 31
all who died in or trying to escape their RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter.

5 of them were members of the United States Air Force:
Maj. Richard F. Bakke, 33
Maj. Harold L. Lewis, 35
TSgt. Joel C. Mayo, 34
Capt. Lyn D. McIntosh, 33
Capt. Charles T. McMillan, 28, 
who died in the cockpit of their C-130 Hercules transport.



When  President Reagan was elected, the negotiations began 
to speed up in the period after the election and as Reagan’s inauguration neared, 
so did a conclusion to the crisis. The final agreement was that the 
US had to “lift the US economic sanctions against Iran as well as to 
return $12 billion in Iranian assets frozen in US banks in return for the hostages” 
Ayatollah set the release date for January 20 1981, the day of Reagan’s inauguration. 
As soon as Reagan was sworn in, the hostages were set free and flew t
o Wiesbaden, West Germany, and then home to America.


The total of Hostages: 
Sixty-six Americans were taken captive when Iranian militants 
seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, 
including three who were at the Iranian Foreign Ministry. 
Six more Americans escaped. Of the 66 who were taken hostage, 
13 were released on Nov. 19 and 20, 1979; one was released 
on July 11, 1980, and the remaining 52 were released on Jan. 20, 1981


The Hostages Finally Arrive Home in the United States!

"Hostages Reveal Iran Torture"

"The emancipated hostages told of beatings and other atrocities 
at the hands of the Iranian captors today 
as they telephoned their loved ones back home.

"One said ... he was told by Iranian interrogators ... 
that his mother had died. He didn't learn that she was still alive 
until the freed captives reached Germany this morning.

"As they began a stay of several days at a U.S. military hospital 
in Wiesbaden, Germany, most of the 52 hostages talked 
with their families for the first time in 445 days. ...

"Col. Leland Holland, 53, security chief of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran ... '
spent a month in what he called the
"dungeon" and said his captors were S.O.B.s,' 
said the colonel's mother. 
'He said his house was ransacked and
everything taken, including his watch and rings. 
They took all the furniture and clothes.'

"A spokesman for the family (of Duane 'Sam' Gillette) said: 
'His treatment was at times disgusting. I think President
Reagan was polite when he termed the Iranians barbarians. 
We know that his letters were covering up what the real
situation was. There was no physical torture, 
but there was psychological pressure. 
The food wasn't good and the
conditions were very poor.'

"And the family of Malcolm Kalp said ... '
He told us he was beaten by them and placed in 
solitary confinement because of his escape attempts.' 
He served from 150 to 170 days in solitary. ...

"Returnee David Roeder, 40, of Washington, D.C., said, 
'I've never been so proud to be an American in all my life.' ...
"Outside the hospital ... the crowd ... broke into a chant of 
'U.S.A., U.S.A.' Only 12 hours and nine minutes earlier, 
the two women and 50 men hostages flew out of Iran on 
an Algerian jet to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards' 
jeers of 'Down with America' and 'Down with Reagan.' ... "




This is a photo of what the Iranians did to the dead Americans 
who took part in the rescue attempt. 
This is a shot of an Iranian man taking his knife to one of the bodies. 
He eventually took off the head of the dead American. 
This is a barbaric act, but it is not as crude as the next photo, 
taken of someone who is supposed to represent the religion of Islam.



This is a photo of someone who was supposed to be a holy man in Islam. 
His name is Ayatollah Kalkali. He literally spit on the bodies of our 
Marines and Airmen that died in Desert One in the attempt. 
I consider him a criminal, too.




Iranians burn a U.S. flag outside of the former U.S. Embassy 
in a gathering marking the 25th anniversary of the seizure 
of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2004.
Thousands of Iranian students gathered outside the former 
American embassy in Tehran on Wednesday to mark the 
25th anniversary of the 1979 storming which led to the 
year-long "hostage crisis" between Iran and the United States.

Today, reflecting on their experiences through the prism of 9-11, 
the war in Iraq and two decades of tumultuous relations with the 
Middle East, many say the United States was 
too late to recognize that a new era had begun.

"The day they took us is the day they should have started 
the war on terrorism," said Rodney "Rocky" Sickmann, 47, 
of St. Louis County, Mo., an embassy security guard.


"Given the terrorist modus operandi nowadays, we probably 
wouldn't come out alive. They weren't as bold then. 
They had a latent fear of the United States," said Chuck Scott, 72, 
of Jonesboro, Ga., a former Green Beret in Vietnam who 
was an Army colonel when he was taken hostage.


Fifty-two of the hostages were held for the entire 444 days. 
Of those, 11 have since died.

Among the rest, memories of that time have resurfaced 
with the kidnappings and beheadings of Americans in Iraq.

"When I saw them there blindfolded with the guys with 
the ski masks on I had gone through those things in Iran," 
said Rick Kupke, 57, of Rensselaer, Ind. 
"I can tell exactly what they felt and the fear that's going through them."

William Blackburn Royer Jr., 73, of Katy, Texas, 
remembers being jolted awake by the screams of his captors, 
"herded like cattle" into another room, stripped naked and 
forced up against a wall in front of a firing squad.

"The whole thing was a shock to the system my legs were 
shaking from the insecurity of the situation," he said. 
"It was intended as a good psychological upheaval."


Paul Needham said he remembers reciting the 23rd Psalm 
as he was lined up for a firing squad. He said he reflects on his captivity every day.


As for the anniversary......
many said they prefer to remember another day.

"We celebrate Jan. 20, the anniversary of our release," 
Laingen said. 
"That's a good day. Nov. 4 is the day the roof fell in."








Tom Flynn, owner of Hillcrest Memorial Park, 
was convinced that this period in American history 
was too important to forget and determined to find 
a way to help Hermitage and the nation remember.

     With the help of unemployed steel workers in the 
Valley and flags donated by the families of veterans 
buried at Hillcrest, Flynn decided to erect an American 
flag for each day the hostages had been held. 


On day 100, the first 100 flags were flown. In a special 
ceremony that evening, Mr. and Mrs. Matrinko of Oliphant, 
Pennsylvania (near Scranton) raised the 100th flag and 
lighted a flame of freedom for their son, Michael, who was 
still being held a captive. The flame would burn until 
Michael was able to come home and extinguish it. Flynn 
further committed to add a flag to the memorial for each 
day the hostages were held. Little did he know that this 
commitment would mean 344 additional flags.


Special ceremonies at Hillcrest were held on day 200, 300, 365, and 400, 
as time in captivity began to be marked by the number of flags flying on 
the Avenue. Included in these special tributes was a 52-hour prayer vigil, 
one hour for each of the remaining hostages still being held.

When eight American servicemen lost their lives during an ill-fated rescue 
attempt in Iran, the citizens of Scranton joined forces to dedicate a permanent 
monument in memory of these brave men and placed it in the Avenue of Flags.


Over 1,000 flags were used to keep the flags flying during the original 444 days, 
as the flags needed to be replaced three to four time a year. All but 100 of these 
original flags were donated by supporters from all around the world. 

Most of them had once draped the casket of an American veteran. The flags 
represented periods in history from the Spanish-American War through the 
Vietnam conflict. One Canadian flag also flies on the Avenue in recognition of 
the Canadian embassy's help in saving six hostages from captivity and eventually
returning them to freedom.


On days when the sound of these 444 symbols of American pride can be heard 
flapping in the wind from a distance, visitors are filled with a sense of pride and 
remembrance of a time when America was held hostage, and many have been 
seen to leave the park with tears filling their eyes.


I pray we never forget the lives that were lost
and gave their all in the Hostage Rescue Attempt.
Wild Thing


Just one last thing...... years ago President Reagan said this.........

"I don't think you can overstate the importance 
that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism 
will have to the rest of the world in the 
century ahead-especially if, as seems possible,
its most fanatical elements get their
 hands on nuclear and chemical weapons
and the means to deliver them
 against their enemies." --Ronald Reagan