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Thirty Years Ago Today: Desert One Ends In Disaster

by @ 12:42 pm on April 25, 2010. Filed under Foreign Affairs, History, Iran


Thirty years ago today, the only rescue mission mounted by President Jimmy Carter to end the Iranian Hostage Crisis ended in disaster and embarrassment:

The dramatic attempt to free the hostages began yesterday when six Hercules C130 transport planes set off to rendezvous with a group of nine helicopters at a remote desert airstrip, south-east of Tehran.

But the mission ran into trouble almost as soon as it had started

Two helicopters went down with engine trouble, and a third was diverted to help.

Then another helicopter was damaged as it landed on the airstrip, leaving only five workable helicopters. The mission had become impossible.

President Carter ordered the operation to abort. It was then that the farce became a tragedy.

As the aircraft took off again, another helicopter crashed into one of the C130 aircraft and burst into flames. Eight soldiers died, and another four men suffered burns.

At that point, the 52 hostages has been held for 174 days. It would be another 270 days before they would finally leave Iran.

The full story of that mission, and just how badly planned and executed it was, can be found here.

That morning, President Carter took to the airwaves:

It was the final event that marked the end of Carter’s Presidency.

H/T: ThirdWaveDave

4 Responses to “Thirty Years Ago Today: Desert One Ends In Disaster”

  1. Let's Be Free says:

    The release, 270 days later, was January 20, 1981, the date of Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural. I remember standing on the mall just west of the US Capitol reflecting pool as the the news buzz literally worked its way through the crowd. I had with me a transistor radio (remember when that’s what we called it?) as people pressed in to hear the news. When it was announced that the hostages had cleared Iranian airspace the crowd spontaneously burst into applause.

    It is amazing what can happen when we have a President who believes in the people, as opposed to one who believes in the government.

  2. Dude says:

    A pity that nobody remembers anything about Iran-contra. Bush Sr. is alledged to have negotiated an arms deal with the Iranians in return for the hostages being held till after the election.

  3. Put your tinfoil hat back on. That conspiracy theory was debunked years ago

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