Saturday, April 24, 2004

Operation Eagle Claw

Not longer after 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, few stupid university students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days. The story of that raid is not goin' to be said here 'cause it's a complicated, long and controversial one, which will be discussed in detail, hopefully, later.
What is gonna be narrated here is what Americans did after negotiations failed with Iranian authorities, after a six months period to free the hostages: Operation Eagle Claw.
On the evening of April.24.1980, six C-130s left Masirah Island, Oman, and eight RH-53D helicopters departed the USS Nimitz in the Arabian Sea. Both formations headed for the location code-named Desert One, a remote area close to the city of Tabas in Khorasan province, west of Iran. The operation has been planned and exercised for months.
What happens after that seems a bit complicated 'cause what we know is what Americans say and you can't trust them. They claim that helicopter pilots were told to fly at or below 200 feet (about 61 m.) to avoid radar. This limitation caused them to run into a dust storm, that they could not fly over without breaking the 200 feet limit. This statement seems ridiculous as everything has been planned and they knew that Desert One is a dusty area!
Not all of the aircraft reached the rendezvous 1 hour late (A few didn't make it because of a malfunction and few others because they lost their sight) And here is another inexplicit point: It's said that one of the helicopters moved to another position and drifted into one of the parked C-130's and immediately both the C-130 and RH-53 burst into flames. Why did the pilot do that?! Nobody knows! It resulted to death of 8 crew members.
The C-130 was evacuated and the order came to blow the aircraft. However, in the dust and confusion the order never reached the people who would blow the aircraft. There were wounded and dying men to be taken care of and the aircraft had to be moved to avoid having the burning debris start another fire. Because of this failure to destroy the helicopters, the Americans left behind them 5 RH-53D intact fell into the hands of the Iranians.
(Photo: Debris of an exploded C-130. It might have been bombed by Iranians 'cuase they did so the day after failed operation!)