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The Disasterous "Desert One" Rescue Operation of 1980
Air Force Magazine ^ | Otto Kreisher

Posted on 10/13/2001 4:41:12 PM PDT by SamAdams76


Iranian soldiers survey the wreckage of the aborted US military attempt to rescue hostages in the US Embassy in Tehran. Eight American servicemen died in a disastrous accident as the rescue forces pulled back from the mission.

By Otto Kreisher

For some, the current political debate over the combat readiness of today's American military stirs memories of a long-ago event that, more than anything else, came to symbolize the disastrously "hollow" forces of the post-Vietnam era.

It began in the evening of April 24, 1980, when a supposedly elite US military force launched a bold but doomed attempt to rescue their fellow American citizens and their nation's honor from captivity in Tehran. In the early hours of April 25, the effort ended in fiery disaster at a remote spot in Iran known ever after as Desert One.

This failed attempt to rescue 53 hostages from the US Embassy in Tehran resulted in the death of five US Air Force men and three Marines, serious injuries to five other troops, and the loss of eight aircraft. That failure would haunt the US military for years and would torment some of the key participants for the rest of their lives.

One, Air Force Col. James Kyle, called it, "The most colossal episode of hope, despair, and tragedy I had experienced in nearly three decades of military service."

The countdown to this tragedy opened exactly 20 years ago, in January 1979. A popular uprising in Iran forced the sudden abdication and flight into exile of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the longtime ruler of Iran and staunch US ally. Brought to power in the wake of this event was a government led, in name, by Shahpur Bakhtiar and Abolhassan Bani Sadr. Within months, they, too, had been shoved aside, replaced by fundamentalist Shiite Muslim clerics led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

This secretly taken photo shows how Iranian troops blanketed the streets, making it difficult for the US to obtain intelligence. The CIA's spy network had been dismantled, one of many problems facing the rescue planners.

On Nov. 4, two weeks after President Jimmy Carter had allowed the shah to enter the US for medical care, 3,000 Iranian "student" radicals invaded the US Embassy in Tehran, taking 66 Americans hostage. Chief of Mission L. Bruce Laingen and two aides were held separately at the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

The students demanded that the shah be returned for trial. Khomeini's supporters blocked all efforts to free the hostages.

Thirteen black and female hostages would be released later as a "humanitarian" gesture, but the humiliating captivity for the others would drag on for 14 months.

Rice Bowl

Carter, facing a re-election battle in 1980, strongly favored a diplomatic solution, but his national security advisor, Zbignew Brzezinski, directed the Pentagon to begin planning for a rescue mission or retaliatory strikes in case the hostages were harmed. In response, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. David C. Jones, established a small, secretive planning group, dubbed "Rice Bowl," to study American options for a rescue effort.

It quickly became clear how difficult that would be.

The first obstacle was the location. Tehran was isolated, surrounded by more than 700 miles of desert and mountains in any direction. This cut the city off from ready attack by US air or naval forces. Moreover, the embassy was in the heart of the city congested by more than four million people.

A bigger hurdle, however, was the condition of the US military, which had plummeted in size and quality in the seven years since it had staged a near-total withdrawal from Vietnam. Among the casualties of the post­Vietnam cutbacks was the once-powerful array of Army and Air Force special operations forces that had performed feats of great bravery and military skill in Southeast Asia.

The one exception was an elite unit of soldiers recently formed to counter the danger of international terror. This unit, called Delta Force, was commanded by Army Col. Charles Beckwith, a combat-tested special forces officer. Delta, which had just been certified as operational after conducting a hostage rescue exercise, was directed to start planning for the real thing at the Tehran embassy.

The immediate question was how to get Delta close enough to do its job. Directing the planners who were trying to solve that riddle was Army Maj. Gen. James Vaught, a veteran of three wars, with Ranger and airborne experience but no exposure to special operations or multiservice missions. Because of the need for extreme secrecy, he was denied the use of an existing JCS or service organization. Vaught had to assemble his planning team and the joint task force that would conduct the mission from widely scattered sources.

One of the early selections was Kyle, a highly regarded veteran of air commando operations in Vietnam, who would help plan the air mission and would be on-scene commander at Desert One.

When Beckwith ruled out a parachute drop, helicopters became the best option for reaching Tehran, despite the doubts Beckwith and other Vietnam veterans had about their reliability. Navy RH-53D Sea Stallions, which were used as airborne minesweepers, were chosen because of their superior range and load-carrying capability and their ability to operate from an aircraft carrier.

Even the Navy Sea Stallions could not fly from the Indian Ocean to Tehran without refueling. After testing and rejecting alternatives, the task force opted to use Air Force EC-130 Hercules transports rigged with temporary 18,000-gallon fuel bladders to refuel the helicopters on their way to Tehran.

RH-53s being preflighted 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.

Finding the Spot

However, that decision led to the requirement of finding a spot in the Iranian desert where the refueling could take place on the ground. That required terrain that would support the weight of the gas-bloated Hercules.

US intelligence found and explored just such a location, about 200 miles southeast of Tehran. In planning and training, this site was known as Desert One.

Because the RH-53s were Navy aircraft, the Pentagon assigned Navy pilots to fly them and added Marine copilots to provide experience with land assault missions.

That combination soon proved unworkable, as many of the Navy's pilots were unable or unwilling to master the unfamiliar and difficult tasks of long-range, low-level flying over land, at night, using primitive night vision goggles.

In December, most of the Navy pilots were replaced by Marines carefully selected for their experience in night and low-level flying. The mission ultimately had 16 pilots: 12 Marine, three Navy, and one Air Force.

Selected to lead the helicopter element was Marine Lt. Col. Edward Seiffert, a veteran H-53 pilot who had flown long-range search-and-rescue missions in Vietnam and had considerable experience flying with night vision goggles.

Beckwith described Seiffert as "a no-nonsense, humorless--some felt rigid--officer who wanted to get on with the job."

Delta and the helicopter crews never developed the coordination and trust that are essential to high-stress, complex combat missions. Possibly, this was caused by the disjointed nature of the task force and its training.

While the helicopter crews worked out of Yuma, Ariz., the members of Delta Force did most of their training in the woods of North Carolina. Other Army personnel were drilling in Europe. The Air Force crews that would take part in the mission trained in Florida or Guam, thousands of miles away in the Pacific.

The entire operation was being directed by a loosely assembled staff in Washington, D.C., which insisted that all the elements had to be further isolated by a tightly controlled flow of information that would protect operational security.

"Ours was a tenuous amalgamation of forces held together by an intense common desire to succeed, but we were slow coming together as a team," Kyle wrote in his account of the mission.

Meanwhile, Beckwith and his staff were desperate for detailed information on the physical layout of the embassy, the numbers and locations of the Iranian guards, and, most important, the location of the hostages.


C-130s were to fly the rescue force from Masirah to Desert One. Helicopters, flown
from Nimitz, would carry the rescuers to a hideout near Tehran. The next night,
the commandos were to drive to the embassy to release the hostages. The helicopters
then were to carry the rescuers and hostages to the abandoned Manzariyeh air base,
where C-141s would fly them to Egypt.

Six Buildings

Without that data, Delta had to plan to search up to six buildings in the embassy compound where the hostages might be held. That required Beckwith to increase the size of his assault force, which meant more helicopters were needed.

No intelligence was coming out of Iran because Carter had dismantled the CIA's network of spies due to the agency's role in overthrowing governments in Vietnam and Latin America.

It would be months before agents could be inserted into Iran to supply the detailed intelligence Beckwith said was "the difference between failure and success, between humiliation and pride, between losing lives and saving them."

Despite all the obstacles, the task force by mid-March 1980 had developed what they considered a workable plan, and all of the diverse operational elements had become confident of their ability to carry it out.

The plan was staggering in its scope and complexity, bringing together scores of aircraft and thousands of men from all four services and from units scattered from Arizona to Okinawa, Japan.

USAF Col. James Kyle, mission planner and on-scene commander, and Army Col. Charles Beckwith, Delta Force commander, flew to Desert One in an MC-130, like this one, with Delta troopers and an Air Force combat controller team.

The plan was this:

On the first night, six Air Force C-130s carrying 132 Delta commandos, Army Rangers, and support personnel and the helicopter fuel would fly from the island of Masirah, off the coast of Oman, more than 1,000 miles to Desert One, being refueled in flight from Air Force KC-135 tankers.

Eight Navy RH-53Ds would lift off the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, about 50 miles south of the Iranian coast, and fly more than 600 miles to Desert One.

After refueling, the helicopters would carry the rescue force to a hideout in hills about 50 miles southeast of Tehran, then fly to a separate hiding spot nearby. The C-130s would return to Masirah, being refueled in flight again.

The next night, Delta would be driven to the embassy in vehicles obtained by the agents. A team of Rangers would go to rescue the three Americans held in the foreign ministry.

As the ground units were freeing the hostages, the helicopters would fly from their hiding spot to the embassy and the foreign ministry.

Three Air Force AC-130 gunships would arrive overhead to protect the rescue force from any Iranian counterattack and to destroy the jet fighters at the Tehran airport.

The choppers would fly the rescue force and the freed hostages to an abandoned air base at Manzariyeh, about 50 miles southwest of Tehran, which was to be seized and protected by a Ranger company flown in on C-130s.

The helicopters would be destroyed and C-141s, flown in from Saudi Arabia, would then fly the entire group to a base in Egypt.

"Now a Reality"

After five months of planning, organizing, training, and a series of increasingly complex rehearsals, Kyle recalled: "The ability to rescue our people being held hostage, which didn't exist on Nov. 4, 1979, was now a reality."

The team still needed Carter's permission to execute.

Although the shah had moved to Panama and then to Egypt, the 53 Americans remained hostages and the public was getting impatient. Finally, in a White House meeting of his top advisors on April 11, Carter gave up on diplomacy. "I told everyone that it was time for us to bring our hostages home; their safety and our national honor were at stake," Carter said in his memoirs.

Five days later, Jones, Vaught, and Beckwith briefed Carter at the White House on the plans for the rescue mission and expressed their confidence in their ability to pull it off.

Beckwith recalled that Carter told them: "I do not want to undertake this operation, but we have no other recourse. ... We're going to do this operation."

Carter then told Jones, "This is a military operation; you will run it. ... I don't want anyone else in this room involved."

The audacious operation was code-named "Eagle Claw." The target date was April 24-25.

Almost immediately, forces began to move to their jump-off points. By April 24, 44 aircraft were poised at six widely separated locations to perform or support the rescue mission. The RH-53s already were on Nimitz, where they had been stored with minimal care for months, but a frantic effort brought them up to what Seiffert and Navy officials insisted was top mechanical condition by launch day.

Beckwith and Seiffert had agreed that they would need a minimum of six flyable helicopters at Desert One for the mission to continue. Beckwith had asked for 10 helos on the carrier to cover for possible malfunctions, but the Navy claimed they could not store more than eight on the hangar deck.

Delta and many of the Air Force aircraft staged briefly at a Russian-built airfield at Wadi Qena, Egypt, which would serve as Vaught's headquarters for the mission. While at Wadi Qena on April 23, the task force received an intelligence report that all 53 hostages were being held in the embassy's chancery. Because he was not told the solid source of that information, Beckwith did not trust it enough to reduce his assault force, which may have been a critical decision.

The next day, with Delta Force and support elements on Masirah and the helicopter crews on Nimitz, Vaught received the final weather report. It promised the virtually clear weather that the mission required.

"Execute Mission"

Vaught sent a message to all units: "Execute mission as planned. God speed."

"There was cheering, and fists were jammed into the air with thumbs up. ... This was an emotional high for all of us," Kyle wrote.

That emotional high would crash into despair in about 12 hours.

The mission started in the twilight of April 24 with barely a hitch. Kyle and Beckwith flew out of Masirah on the lead MC-130 Combat Talon with some of the Delta troopers and an Air Force combat controller team. At about the same time, Seiffert led the helicopter force--given the call sign of "Bluebird"--from Nimitz and headed to the Iranian coast, 60 miles away.

The choppers had been fitted with two advanced navigation systems, but the pilots found them unreliable and were relying mainly on visual navigation as they cruised along at 200 feet. "We were fat, dumb, and happy," Seiffert recalled.

About 100 miles into Iran, the Talon ran into a thin cloud that reduced visibility but was not a problem at its cruise altitude of 2,000 feet. The cloud was a mass of suspended dust, called a "haboob," common to the Iranian desert. Air Force weather experts supporting the mission knew it was a possibility but apparently never told the mission pilots. Kyle said he considered sending a warning to the helicopters but decided it was not significant.

When the MC-130 ran into a much thicker cloud later, he did try to alert Seiffert, but the message never got through. It was just one of the communications glitches that would plague the mission.

The dust cloud that was a minor irritation to the Combat Talon became an extended torture for the helicopter pilots, who were trying to fly formation and visually navigate at 200 feet while wearing the crude night vision goggles. Visibly shaken Marine fliers later told Beckwith and Kyle the hours in the milk-like dust cloud were the worst experience of their lives, which for some included combat in Vietnam.

Things had started to go wrong even before the dust cloud.

Less than two hours into the flight, a warning light came on in the cockpit of Bluebird Six. The indicator, called the Blade Inspection Method, or BIM, warned of a possible leak of the pressurized nitrogen that filled the Sea Stallion's hollow rotors. In the H-53 models the Marines were used to flying, the BIM indicator usually meant a crack in one of the massive blades, which had caused rotor failures and several fatal crashes in the past. As a result, Marine H-53 pilots were trained to land quickly after a BIM warning.

The Navy's RH-53s, however, had newer BIM systems that usually did not foretell a blade failure. To that date, no RH-53 had experienced a blade break and the manufacturer had determined that the helicopter could fly safely for up to 79 hours at reduced speed after a BIM alert.

Down to Seven

However, the pilots of Bluebird Six did not know that. Thinking the craft unsafe to fly, the crew abandoned it in the desert and jumped aboard a helicopter that had landed to help.

The mission was down to seven helicopters.

Further inland, the remaining choppers were struggling with the dust cloud, which dropped visibility to yards and sent the cockpit temperature soaring. Although all the pilots were having difficulty, Bluebird Five was really suffering as progressive electrical system failures took away most of the pilot's essential flight and navigation instruments. The pilot, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Rodney Davis, "was flying partial panel, needle-ball, wet compass--a real vertigo inducer," Seiffert said.

Fighting against the unnerving effects of vertigo-when your inner ear tells you the aircraft is turning while your eyes tell you it is not-and unaware of the location of the other helicopters or the weather at Desert One, Davis decided to turn back.

Davis did not know that he was about 25 minutes from clear air, which prevailed all the way to Desert One, because everyone was maintaining strict radio silence to avoid detection.

The mission now was down to the minimum six helicopters.

Meanwhile, the lead C-130 had landed at Desert One, and Beckwith's commandos had raced out to block the dirt road that traversed the site.

Within minutes, they stopped a bus with 44 persons at one end of the site and at the opposite end had to fire an anti-tank round into a gas tanker truck that refused to stop. The driver of the tanker leaped from his burning vehicle and escaped in a pickup that was following.

Despite fears the mission might be compromised, the combat controllers quickly installed a portable navigation system and runway lights to guide the other mission aircraft to Desert One.

Soon, the remainder of Delta Force was on the ground and the three EC-130s were positioned to refuel the helicopters, which were supposed to arrive 20 minutes later.

But, as Kyle discovered months later, someone had miscalculated the choppers' flight time by 55 minutes and the first Bluebird was more than an hour away. Finally, the Sea Stallions lumbered in from the dark, coming in ones and twos, instead of a formation, and from different directions.

After considerable anxiety, the count was up to six helicopters on the ground at Desert One and the hopes for a successful rescue soared again.

But as the helicopters struggled through unexpected deep sand to get into position behind the tankers, one shut down its engines.

Bluebird Two had suffered a complete failure of its secondary hydraulic system, which was unrepairable and left it with minimal pressure for its flight controls. Although the pilot appeared willing to try taking his sick bird on to the hideout, Seiffert overruled him.

Kyle tried to talk Seiffert into taking the helo on, but he refused, warning that flying with the one system at such heavy weight and high temperature could result in a control lockup and a crash that would kill not only the crew but the Delta commandos on board. Kyle then asked Beckwith if he could reduce his assault force to go with five choppers, but he was equally adamant about not changing his plans.

Failure of Eagle Claw

It seemed clear the mission had to be aborted.

Kyle informed Vaught of the situation by satellite radio and the task force commander relayed that to Jones and the Secretary of Defense, Harold Brown, at the Pentagon. When the word got to the White House, Carter asked Brown to get Beckwith's opinion. Told that Beckwith felt it necessary to abort, Carter said: "Let's go with his recommendation."

Eagle Claw had failed and the tense anticipation of success drained into frustration and anger.

Now Kyle was left with the unrehearsed job of getting everyone out of Iran. Because of the extended time on the ground, one of the C-130s was running low on fuel and had to leave soon. To allow that tanker to move, Kyle directed Marine Maj. James Schaefer to reposition his helicopter. With a flattened nose wheel, Schaefer could not taxi and tried to lift off to move his bird, stirring a blinding dust cloud.

As Kyle watched in horror, the helo slid sideways, slicing into the C-130 with its spinning rotors and igniting a raging fire. Red-hot chunks of metal flamed across the sky as munitions in both aircraft torched off.

Some of the Delta commandos had boarded the C-130 and they came tumbling out the side door as the Air Force loadmasters and senior soldiers tried to stop a spreading panic. Men were helping the injured away from the inferno.

The projectiles ejecting from the flaming wreckage were hitting the three nearby helicopters and their crews quickly fled.

Many of the people at Desert One that night credit Kyle with restoring order to the chaotic scene and getting all the living men and salvageable equipment out safely. But in the flaming funeral pyre of Eagle Claw's shattered hopes, they left the bodies of eight brave men.

On the departing C-130s, Delta medics treated four badly burned men, including Schaefer, his copilot, and two airmen. "We left a lot of hopes and dreams back there at Desert One, but the nightmares and despair were coming with us ... and would continue to haunt us for years, maybe forever," Kyle wrote later.

The hostages were released in January 1981 after the US and Iran reached an accord involving release of frozen Iranian assets. Lt. Col David Roeder, left, and Col. Thomas E. Schaefer were two of the USAF servicemen who were among those freed.

Holloway's Investigation

Although Carter went on television the next day to announce the failure of the mission and to accept the blame, Congress and the Pentagon launched inquiries to determine the reasons for the tragedy. The Pentagon probe was handled by a board of three retired and three serving flag officers representing all four services; it was led by retired Adm. James L. Holloway III. The commission's report listed 23 areas "that troubled us professionally about the mission-areas in which there appeared to be weaknesses."

"We are apprehensive that the critical tone of our discussion could be misinterpreted as an indictment of the able and brave men who planned and executed this operation. We encountered not a shred of evidence of culpable neglect or incompetence," the report said.

The commission concluded that the concept and plan for the mission were feasible and had a reasonable chance for success.

But, it noted, "the rescue mission was a high-risk operation. ... People and equipment were called upon to perform at the upper limits of human capacity and equipment capability. There was little margin to compensate for mistakes or plain bad luck."

The major criticism was of the "ad hoc" nature of the task force, a chain of command the commission felt was unclear, and an emphasis on operational secrecy it found excessive.

The commission also said the chances for success would have been improved if more backup helicopters had been provided, if a rehearsal of all mission components had been held, and if the helicopter pilots had had better access to weather information and the data on the RH-53s' BIM warning system.

And it suggested that Air Force helicopter pilots might have been better qualified for the mission.

However, the report also said, "The helicopter crews demonstrated a strong dedication toward mission accomplishment by their reluctance to abort under unusually difficult conditions." And it concluded that, "two factors combined to directly cause the mission abort: an unexpected helicopter failure rate and the low-visibility flight conditions en route to Desert One."

Beckwith openly blamed the helicopter pilots immediately after the mission. However, in his critique to the Senate Armed Services Committee, he attributed the failure to Murphy's Law and the use of an ad hoc organization for such a difficult mission. "We went out and found bits and pieces, people and equipment, brought them together occasionally, and then asked them to perform a highly complex mission," he said. "The parts all performed, but they didn't necessarily perform as a team."

He recommended creating an organization that, in essence, was the prototype of the Special Operations Command that Congress mandated in 1986.

Kyle, in his book on the mission, rejected the Holloway commission's conclusions and basically blamed Seiffert and the helicopter pilots for not climbing out of the dust cloud, for not using their radios to keep the formation intact, and for the three helicopter aborts.

He argued that the task force never had less than seven flyable helicopters. All that was lacking, he wrote, was "the guts to try."

Seiffert praised Beckwith and Kyle as professional warriors but disagreed with their criticism of him and his helicopter pilots. He equated his decision to ground the chopper with the failed hydraulic system to Beckwith's refusal to cut his assault force, and he refused to second-guess the two pilots who had aborted earlier.

Seiffert said he was confident that, had they gotten to Tehran, the mission would have succeeded. Kyle was equally certain, writing that: "It is my considered opinion that we came within a gnat's eyebrow of success."

Beckwith wrote in his memoirs that he had recurring nightmares after Desert One. However, he noted, "In none have I ever dreamed whether the mission would have been successful or not."


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 1980; desertone; eagleclaw; iran; jimmycarter; rescue; thecarterdisaster; waronterror
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I didn't post this to bum anybody out. In fact, I posted it to lift our spirits. Desert One happened under much different circumstances: A demoralized military still reeling from the Vietnam disaster, an ineffective and indecisive president, and in the wake of Watergate, a populace that had very little faith in their government. Remember that the Desert One debacle set the stage for Ronald Reagan's victory later that year.

It's been 20 years since Ronald Reagan took office and despite the 8 years of Clinton, it has mostly been uphill for our military since. We are now in much better shape to combat the Middle Eastern menace and we have the leadership in place to see this crisis through. During the long war to come, we may have bad days that compare to Desert One but we can be assured that any military losses will not be due to piss-poor planning and from lack of support back home. We can also be assured that our military will do us proud in the end and that we will prevail in this conflict.

I was just 17 years old back in April 1980 when Desert One occurred. I remember those times when America was not united and in fact dysfunctional. We had a "misery" index. Even President Carter was depressing, holed up in the White House ("Rose Garden Strategy") during the entire hostage crisis with bags under his eyes. It was not a proud time to be an American in 1980. We boycotted the summer Olympics in Moscow because, of all things, Russia was fighting Afghanistan! But two good things happened that year. The U.S. beat the Russians to win the Gold Medal in hockey at the winter Olympics and of course, Ronald Reagan was elected as 40th president of the United States. On February 10, 1981, less than a month after President Reagan took office, I entered the United States Marine Corps, feeling good about my new commander-in-chief. And I sure feel good about the one we have today as well!

1 posted on 10/13/2001 4:41:12 PM PDT by SamAdams76
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To: SamAdams76
Thank you very much for posting this very interesting article.
2 posted on 10/13/2001 5:11:46 PM PDT by eabinga
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To: SamAdams76
Outstanding article. I was 14 when this incident occurred. I too remember what it was like to feel that America had been humiliated by these fanatics in Iran. And then I remember how Reagan started bringing our pride back. I have often sat back and wondered how much different the world would be today had that mission in Iran succeeded and the hostages were freed. Thanks for the post.
3 posted on 10/13/2001 5:23:37 PM PDT by Prodigal Son
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To: eabinga
Thanks, reading this article gave me flashbacks. The failed mission so demoralized me that it was the first time I read about the mission since it happened back in 1980. I forgot all about the details of what was supposed to take place. What an audacious and complicated plan! Even if there was no equipment malfunctions, I doubt the plan would have worked.

Anyway, the History Channel is currently showing three hours of the 1990 Gulf War. Now that's something I don't mind looking back on. Though we really should have gone to Baghdad and removed Sadaam Hussein from power.

4 posted on 10/13/2001 5:27:31 PM PDT by SamAdams76
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To: SamAdams76
Good post- I remember it all too well. We need to know this stuff so it doesn't happen again.
5 posted on 10/13/2001 5:31:09 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: SamAdams76
Good post.

When this happened I swore I would never vote for another democrat, ever.

6 posted on 10/13/2001 5:39:06 PM PDT by Inge_CAV
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To: SamAdams76
I was on active duty then and remember the day they were taken hostage. We were in drydock at Norfolk Yards when we went to closed ship for several hours. Nothing was said for what seemed like hours but probably an hour or so later the Captain told us we were on alert for possible deployment all work was stopped till we recieved orders whether to put the ship back together and go or remain for our overhaul. Finally either late that afternoon or evening we were told the JFK was going and we were to remain in drydock.

But there is a big difference in the military then and now. We had more deployable troops and ships. We had more planes. It just took the mind and determination of Reagan to use them more wisely. Unfortunately we are now short abot 4-6 carriers and carrier groups and many more submarines. In short we need to start rebuilding our military A.S.A.P. New technology is good as is a missle defense system. But the fact remains our basic old reliables if maintained properly and the users trained properly are our biggest asset. One should not come at the expense of the other. More focus needs to be put into getting back up to two thirds of our 1980 numbers in troops and equipment.

7 posted on 10/13/2001 5:46:27 PM PDT by cva66snipe
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To: SamAdams76
I was in Headquarters Co, 3/4 ADA, 82nd Abn. We sent a couple of Sargents from the redeye teams for aircover at the fuel site. Later I was in 7th Group, met the pilot who flew a stol plane to the site to check it out before the mission.

Good men all, risky and they took it. Too bad then, and now, we are lead by frat boys, liberals, paperpushers.

8 posted on 10/13/2001 5:48:29 PM PDT by Leisler
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To: cva66snipe
I agree. We are a few carriers short. On a thread a few months before this happened about the new carrier Ronald Reagan I reamed out a fellow Freeper for saying that aircraft carriers were a waste of money and relics from a bygone era.

That Freeper couldn't have been further from the truth. Aircraft carriers will carry us far into the 21st Century and probably even beyond. We need to make many more of them. A carrier is like a portable piece of U.S. territory. We can maneuver an entire "airport" with a full fleet of military jets anyplace in the world. Timid nations like France and Saudi Arabia won't let us use their military bases to attack our enemies? No problem. We just park a few carriers off the coast and we can go about our business.

Americans fail to appreciate just how incredible our military might is. Within 24 hours, we established complete air superiority over a land-locked nation like Afghanistan. And we did it with carriers! We are the only nation in the world who can deploy such a massive military presence globally and it is aircraft carriers that make this possible.

I do not think a fleet of 25 aircraft carriers is out of the question. Too expensive? Than close a bunch of bases on the U.S. mainland. Put the bases where they can be most useful to us. On the water where they can be moved wherever we need them to be!

9 posted on 10/13/2001 6:03:14 PM PDT by SamAdams76
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To: SamAdams76
Carter was a very damaging president. The story I remember was that Iran had ordered many jet fighters from us and had paid handsomely for them. Carter canceled the orders then didn't return any of Iran's payment. That was what triggered the hostage situation.

Then there was Carter's high inflation, gas lines, and supplying arms to bin Laden to fight the Russians. If we had supported the Russians instead of fought them, Afghanistan would have become a civilized country.

Carter was infected with too many liberal mind viruses, ideas he believed to be true. He was too trusting, couldn't see that liberalism is a network of lies and liars. Because of it Carter was possibly our worst President.

10 posted on 10/13/2001 6:07:47 PM PDT by Reeses
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To: SamAdams76
I remember turning on the news to see pics of the burnt out chopper in the desert, and Jimmy and Zbig doing their best damage control spin possible.SNAFU is too polite a word to describe that mess, but it does describe Jimmy's Presidency.Carter was saved by Clinton, in that history won't regard him as the worst President of the 20th C after all.But is sure was a race to the bottom.
11 posted on 10/13/2001 6:12:44 PM PDT by habs4ever
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To: habs4ever
I think Carter was a much worse President than Clinton, at least in terms of damage to our country. Carter was extremely honest in motive and trusting, which makes him a better person. But that combined with a terrible infection of liberal mind viruses made him a disaster of a President. Clinton knows liberalism is all about lies, and although he padded his own butt via corruption, at least he didn't do core damage like Carter.
12 posted on 10/13/2001 6:22:44 PM PDT by Reeses
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To: SamAdams76
Why just yesterday I heard Chrissie Matthews praising the greatness of Jimmy Carter. This after bashing President Bush for his performance during his press conference.
13 posted on 10/13/2001 6:26:35 PM PDT by OldFriend
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To: SamAdams76
i'll never forget this. i was working all night on a college term paper with the tv on but the volume off.

i glanced up at 3 or 4 am to see a live feed of president carter. i knew it must be serious.

i turned the volume up and my heart sank.

what a loser--carter.

14 posted on 10/13/2001 6:30:57 PM PDT by ken21
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To: Reeses
I'm inclined to agree with you that Carter was actually a worse president then Clinton because Carter actually believed in all that liberal bullshit. I guess in a warped kind of way, we are fortunate that Clinton wasted his eight years getting blowjobs from interns and endlessly consulting with his nest of lawyers trying to extricate him and his shrew of a wife from their various scams, scandals and other criminal conduct. Sorry for the salty language but I'm passionate in my contempt for those self-serving scumbags (the Clintons) and all those parasites who clung to them like leeches.
15 posted on 10/13/2001 6:33:23 PM PDT by SamAdams76
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To: Leisler
I wonder if there is a way to learn the names of the Delta Force men on that mission in 1980.
16 posted on 10/13/2001 6:35:34 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
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To: Reeses
Carter brought us Ronald, who changed the world.I disagree about Jimmy's goodness;that has been the biggest con about him for 20+ yrs.He's always been a small minded, priggish no goodnik who hectored ad infinitum about his moral superiority through cold evenings in the WH.I loathe them both, he and Clinton, and I have no qualms with anyone who wonders who was the bigger turd.I just wish people would drop the nonsense about Carter being a decent man.He's a $hit, besides being a bungling fool.America's own King Canute.
17 posted on 10/13/2001 6:36:26 PM PDT by habs4ever
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To: SamAdams76
Jimmeh was a "nice" guy but an IDIOT when it came to thinking and leadership. Neither was something he knew anything about.
18 posted on 10/13/2001 6:42:38 PM PDT by nmh
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To: SamAdams76
The one thing we need in the way of carriers is some replacement conventional powered ones built to replace the three remaining ones that will be gone by 2010. I know well the advantages of nukes. But a conventional power plant takes far less time and money to get qualified snipes in the engine rooms to a needed level of qualification. The conventional snipe will be a seasoned and qualified operator before the nuke ever gets out of school and must still qualify.

In the event of mass casuality getting the ship back into operation is a must. The fuel oil 1200 pound conventional plants allow for some very unconventional repairs that could not be an option with a nuke. In short we do not have an over abundance of persons who can cut nuke school. I know of many who didn't make it. It's a volunteer job and due to the nature of it's operation and should remain such to insure the programs integrity. I'm a conventional powered CV vet myself.

19 posted on 10/13/2001 6:45:44 PM PDT by cva66snipe
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To: Reeses
I remember this incident well, as my fiancee was based at Ft. Bliss (El Paso, TX, showing that the military really has a sense of humor, especially since they told him he'd be going to Honolulu when he enlisted. Har, har)

I disagree that Carter was our worst Prez. Carter was completely naive - one of those, I'd like to teach the world to sing types. And, he was a terrible leader. And, he truly didn't believe in America, remember the "we'll just have to get used to losing" attitude?

But Clinton definitely gets the pick for worst Prez, ever. Why? Because he was never motivated by idealism, however misguided. He was, and is still, motivated by a self-serving, narcissistic, what's in it for me, grasping greediness.

Betray his wife and daughter just to get it on with a randy intern? Not a prob. Betray his country for a few extra campaign bucks, just to ensure that he'll get (however illegitimately) re-elected? Okey-dokey. It's all for him, and it's all about him. I doubt he ever even understood (for all his supposed intellect) the concepts of honor, duty and country. I doubt he's ever even grasped the basic tenets of Western Civilization.

20 posted on 10/13/2001 6:58:14 PM PDT by The Right Stuff
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To: SamAdams76
Isn't it weird how the Dems ALWAYS screw up and the GOP ALWAYS wins the foreign wars but -- here at home -- the Dems beat us, hands down, every time?
21 posted on 10/13/2001 7:04:51 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: SamAdams76
A good book on this operation was published by the Naval Institute Press.The author was Paul B.Ryan.The Title is The Iranian Rescue Mission Why It Failed.Excellent book as it covers the whole scenario and aftermath of the operation.
22 posted on 10/13/2001 7:28:48 PM PDT by Terminal Velocity
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To: SamAdams76
very interesting. i had always wondered what the hell went wrong on that mission. were any decorated for bravery? boy, them dummycrats really know how to 'use' and abuse the military. clinton & carter...the 'cc rider' boys!
23 posted on 10/13/2001 7:30:46 PM PDT by rockfish59
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Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: SamAdams76
Fascinating article. I was only 10 when this happened, so luckily I didn't get demoralized about it; to me it was just more adults screwing up. Given the other events of that period, I thought it fit in perfectly.
25 posted on 10/13/2001 8:45:30 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: SamAdams76
Hey, wait a minute...

...as many of the Navy's pilots were unable or unwilling to master...

UNWILLING? If they were Navy pilots, why were they given a CHOICE? If your commanding officer says master it, you master it! No?

26 posted on 10/13/2001 8:54:56 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: SamAdams76
Thanks for posting this. Although I was 19 when this happened, I was not astute at anything that was happening in the world. I was, for all practical purposes, an idiot (look it up in the dictionary guys). May *od forgive me for my wasted youth.

But anyway great article on what happened in that terrible situation.

27 posted on 10/13/2001 9:12:39 PM PDT by BRK
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To: BRK
Young skul full of mush in 1980. My dad said: "VOTE FER REAGAN"... I did. And have voted+R+ ever since!
28 posted on 10/13/2001 9:43:39 PM PDT by jaz.357
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To: SamAdams76
In April, 1980, I was in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on assignment with the U S Army, at about mid-point of my military career. I remember well Desert One, and what occurred there...

the infowarrior

29 posted on 10/14/2001 1:41:36 AM PDT by infowarrior
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To: SamAdams76
Very gripping. The bravery of the men is moving.

I had voted for McGovern, but by the time Carter came around I was of the "don't vote; it only encourages them" belief. And when Reagan appeared I believed the "nuclear cowboy" rhetoric the liberals applied to him.

But soon after I had a forceable growing up life experience. I became a Christian and began to see things differently. I voted again in 84, for Reagan. He had given me something to believe in for America and the world.

I previously thought Carter was a benign fool, but what I've been learning about his and his VP, Mondale's, disdain for Israel and idiotic support for various dictatorships has changed my mind about the binignity. These idiots are dangerous. And it's usually the good who pay for their mistakes, as in this tragic tale. May God keep them from power.
30 posted on 02/16/2003 3:16:26 PM PST by Paul_B
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To: Paul_B
Thanks for the bump. One of the great things about Free Republic is seeing a post you made come back to life a year and a half later. Hopefully Free Republic plans someday to unlock some of the really old posts I used to make here (pre-9/11).
31 posted on 02/16/2003 3:21:14 PM PST by SamAdams76
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To: SamAdams76
Within months, they, too, had been shoved aside, replaced by fundamentalist Shiite Muslim clerics led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

And where did the Ayatollah come from before taking over in Iran? FRANCE!!! Another reason to hate the Frogs.

32 posted on 02/16/2003 3:26:42 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: SamAdams76
Bump on the 24th anniversary of this rescue attempt.

33 posted on 04/25/2004 7:30:12 AM PDT by SamAdams76 (I don't own this gas-guzzling SUV - my wife does!)
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To: infowarrior
me and you were only a few hundred miles away that day, then! :)

The day still makes me sad.
34 posted on 04/25/2004 1:02:12 PM PDT by RaceBannon (VOTE DEMOCRAT AND LEARN ARABIC FREE!!)
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To: SamAdams76
I was a Sergeant in the Hydraulics shop with HMT-361, a CH-53 (A and D models) squadron at MCAS(H) Tustin in California when this went down. They came in asking for volunteers. At that time you did not volunteer for anything. Usually, for a Sergeant, it meant supervising a buncha PFC's and L/Cpls on a clean-up detail of some kind. A Corporal Davis finally volunteered and only later found out what he had volunteered for. We then spent two days getting everything we could think of ready for him to go on board ship. By that time we all had a pretty good idea of what was going on.

The gates were closed and the base was locked down til the mission was over. I worked for 54 hours straight after that, helping to get everything ready for that little "DET". Corporal Davis and the Hydraulic shop portion of that little exercise were well prepared. Once they were on their way, I remember just crashin' out where I was...onna concrete floor. Keep in mind that the helo community in the Marine Corps were chronically under line T/O strength by a substantial margin at that time.

Among the Marines who died in that clusterfuck were men I'd worked with in the past. The helo community in the Marine Corps is rather small. By the time you become an NCO, if you don't know someone, you know who trained them.

Out of that incident at the embassy in Tehran was born the terrorism we know and finally recognize today. They thought we were weak because we didn't fight. To display any sign of weakness in any way to that culture is to become a victim.

It was not the men or machines who failed in that mission. It was political gamesmanship at the highest levels of the Pentagon, along with lackluster, if not criminal, leadership from our C.I.C.
35 posted on 04/25/2004 8:11:54 PM PDT by wrbones (Bones)
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To: wrbones
I find this article very interesting, I am retired from the AF, I was a Combat Controller. I know what happened leading up to and including that day. In an earlier post someone asked for the names of the Casualties at Desert One

Air Force
Maj. Richard L. Bakke
Maj. Harold L. Lewis, Jr.
Capt. Lyn D. McIntosh
Capt. Charles T. McMillan
Tech. Sgt. Joel C. Mayo

Marines
Staff Sgt. Dewey L. Johnson
Sgt. John D. Harvey
Cpl. George N. Holmes, Jr.

These brave Airman and Marines gave their lives for an operation that was doomed from the start. I still have nightmares about what happened, I some times wake up at night yelling to get out of the plane, my wife wakes my from these nightmares and asks what is wrong, we have been married 20 years and I still can not tell her what is wrong.
36 posted on 05/11/2004 8:20:32 PM PDT by dmkcap
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To: SamAdams76

I linked to your post on our news site at: www.christian-news-in-maine.com I just got an email, it seems your link to the Air Force source at the top of the page is not working, could you check it? Thanks, great article.


37 posted on 05/27/2004 6:02:17 AM PDT by newsgatherer
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To: newsgatherer
Another year, today it 25 years from that faithful event, we are now free to talk about.

God Bless those who gave there life for this country back then and today.
38 posted on 04/24/2005 6:28:53 PM PDT by dmkcap
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To: SamAdams76
It began in the evening of April 24, 1980, when a supposedly elite US military force launched a bold but doomed attempt to rescue their fellow American citizens and their nation's honor from captivity in Tehran. In the early hours of April 25, the effort ended in fiery disaster at a remote spot in Iran known ever after as Desert One.

The mission never needed to be a "failure," it was "doomed" because America's so-called "Commander-in-Chief" lacked the testicular fortitude to protect America's interests.

39 posted on 04/24/2005 6:34:31 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: SamAdams76
Remember that the Desert One debacle set the stage for Ronald Reagan's victory later that year.


40 posted on 04/24/2005 6:46:10 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: SamAdams76
Bringing back the old posts to see the light of day!

I was 14 when this happened but I remember all the t-shirts being sold at the time with a picture of Ayatollah Khomeini in crosshairs and the slogan: "Put a hola in the Ayatollah!"

Funny, still works over 35 years later...

 

41 posted on 04/24/2005 6:55:03 PM PDT by Incorrigible (If I lead, follow me; If I pause, push me; If I retreat, kill me.)
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To: SamAdams76

As a result of Desert One the Army put together its own special ops team of helicopter pilots. Taking the best of the best from the experienced helicopter heroes of Vietnam, they put together Task Force 160....now known as 160th SOAR, nicknamed, The NightStalkers.

These pilots were the ones who could land in tiny clearings in the middle of a firefight with barely distance for their rotors to clear.

That tradition continues.

They are now the wings of special operations worldwide.

I performed a wedding a few weeks ago for an old Nightstalker buddy. In attendance were many of our old special operators who got TF160 off the ground. I didn't get to meet everyone there, but I'm told that the dad of SFC Shugart, medal of honor winner of Somalia in the Blackhawk Down incident, was present.

NSDQ


42 posted on 04/24/2005 6:56:36 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: xzins

Bump for referral to the pastor of ChristianPatriot.com


43 posted on 04/25/2005 4:47:28 AM PDT by newsgatherer
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To: newsgatherer

Thanks, news. I checked out the site.

I especially liked the Code of Ethics for Christians who go online.

That would be good to post here in the Relig Forum of FR.

He is Risen!


44 posted on 04/25/2005 5:08:09 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: SamAdams76

Carter blamed Americans for the 'malaise' that he felt affected everything he did -- therefore dooming all his efforts to failure. So it was our fault, not his. (Nobody bought that whining. It's excuse any ten year old is familiar with.)


45 posted on 04/25/2005 5:24:10 AM PDT by hershey
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To: SamAdams76

Here's a link to the original story: http://www.afa.org/magazine/jan1999/0199desertone.asp


46 posted on 04/20/2006 6:55:27 PM PDT by lancer (If you are not with us, you are against us!)
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To: habs4ever

AMEN!!!


47 posted on 04/21/2006 5:43:00 PM PDT by razorbak
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To: All

Never
Forget:

http://www.grouchyconservativepundits.com/index.php?topic=14450.0


48 posted on 04/25/2010 2:36:18 AM PDT by backhoe (Just an Old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the trakball into America's Twilight...)
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To: dmkcap

I just found this thread after 6 years, maybe I saw it earlier, dont remember

I was off the coast for this

http://www.rescueattempt.com


49 posted on 06/08/2010 8:35:44 PM PDT by RaceBannon (RON PAUL: THE PARTY OF TRUTHERS, TRAITORS AND UFO CHASERS!!!)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...
Note: this topic is from 10/13/2001. The second most sorry chapter of the disaster called the Carter Administration. Thanks SamAdams76.

50 posted on 05/05/2013 3:25:21 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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