Operation Eagle Claw remembered, 35 YEARS AGO
A photo of the "Desert One" landing site, a piece of desert in Iran used by U.S. forces as a refueling point in an attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran.
I’m reminding you of this event TODAY only because I was there to witness some of the mission’s preparation aboard the USS Nimitz, and actually watched the eight helicopters fly off into the the red sky horizon shortly after sunset on that fateful evening/early morning halfway around the world in the Arabian Sea, mere miles off the coast of Iran. I consider myself fortunate to be able to ‘blog’ about notable events that have impacted my life in a positive way, and to be able to share them with you here at The Rock Of Rochester DOT com -'Train' \m/\m/ #SOT #NeverForget
BELOW: Six U.S. Navy Sikorsky RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters of helicopter mine countermeasures squadron HM-16 Sea Hawks fly over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in preparation of “Operation Evening Light” (Eagle Claw), in the Arabian Sea in April 1980; a seventh is visible on the flight deck.
One helicopter crashed and would be lost during the failed attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran on 24 April 1980. Several aircraft of Nimitz´ Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8)
are visible. In the foreground are two Grumman F-14A Tomcats of fighter squadron VF-84 Jolly Rogers and a LTV A-7E Corsair II from VA-86 Sidewinders. For “Eagle Claw” all aircraft would be painted with black-red-black identification stripes
On 24 April 1980 a U.S. Navy Sikorsky RH-53D Sea Stallion collided with a U.S. Air Force Lockheed EC-130E Hercules during refueling after the mission was aborted. Both aircraft were destroyed, eight crewmen died.
Operation Eagle Claw (or Operation Evening Light or Operation Rice Bowl)was a United States Armed Forces operation ordered by US President Jimmy Carter to attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 diplomats held captive at the embassy of the United States, Tehran on 24 April 1980. Its failure, and the humiliating public debacle that ensued, damaged US prestige worldwide. Carter concluded that the failure to free the hostages played a major role in Ronald Reagan’s victory in the 1980 US presidential election.
The operation encountered many obstacles and was eventually aborted. Eight helicopters were sent to the first staging area, Desert One, but only five arrived in operational condition. One encountered hydraulic problems, another got caught in a cloud of very fine sand, and the last one showed signs of a cracked rotor blade.
During planning it was decided that the mission would be aborted if fewer than six helicopters remained, despite only four being absolutely necessary. In a move that is still discussed in military circles, the commanders asked President Carter for permission to abort and Carter granted the request.
As the U.S. force prepared to leave, one of the helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft which contained both servicemen and jet fuel. The resulting fire destroyed both aircraft and killed eight servicemen. Operation Eagle Claw was one of Delta Force’s first missions.
Three RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters are lined up on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS NIMITZ (CVN-68) in preparation for Operation Evening Light, a rescue mission to Iran. Repainted RH-53Ds in sand camouflage and without markings aboard USS Nimitz.
Personal NOTE: I took personal photographs from roughly the same angle as the above photo but upon return to the US in the months to follow my photo’s were never returned to me (confiscated by the NIS) after having numerous film canisters processed; due to the ‘classified’ nature of the subject matter I suspect, months before a formal investigation would arrive at their findings. -'Train' \m/\m/
BELOW: Operation Eagle Claw desert one layout
BELOW: Operation Eagle Claw Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery
((SALUTE)) to those who died, and the hero’s who had ‘The Guts To Try’! -'Train' \m/\m/