Iran Hostage Crisis

This event happened while I was a lieutenent at Fort Leonard, Missouri. It came as a shock to many military types that the army could again be called into action. We were still recovering from Viet Nam. One of my friends decided to opt out of active duty fearing that he might be going to Iran. I remember the graffiti on the men's room wall "flush twice, it's a long way to Iran".

I felt sorry for my man, Jimmy Carter. Everyday the TV refered to day such and such of the hostage crisis. This was a big factor in Carter losing the 1980 election to Reagan. Such a shame.

The Iran hostage crisis refers to events following the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran by Iranian students on Nov. 4, 1979. The overthrow of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi of Iran by an Islamic revolutionary government earlier in the year had led to a steady deterioration in Iran-U.S. relations. In response to the exiled shah's admission (Sept., 1979) to the United States for medical treatment, a crowd of about 500 seized the embassy. Of the approximately 90 people inside the embassy, 52 remained in captivity until the end of the crisis. President Carter applied economic pressure by halting oil imports from Iran and freezing Iranian assets in the United States. At the same time, he began several diplomatic initiatives to free the hostages, all of which proved fruitless.

On Apr. 24, 1980, the United States attempted a rescue mission that failed. After three of eight helicopters were damaged in a sandstorm, the operation was aborted; eight persons were killed during the evacuation. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who had opposed the action, resigned after the mission's failure. In 1980, the death of the shah in Egypt and the invasion of Iran by Iraq made the Iranians more receptive to resolving the hostage crisis. In the United States, failure to resolve the crisis contributed to Ronald Reagan's defeat of Carter in the presidential election. After the election, with the assistance of Algerian intermediaries, successful negotiations began. On Jan. 20, 1981, the day of President Reagan's inauguration, the United States released almost $8 billion in Iranian assets and the hostages were freed after 444 days in Iranian detention.

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