35 years ago today: The morning we got the news that the mission had failed
For my generation, the Iran hostage crisis is one of those news stories that brings back bad memories.
It started when the so-called students crashed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held about 50 diplomats hostage. It ended a few minutes after President Reagan was sworn in in January 1981.
Between the takeover and the hostages' release, the story was a daily grind of rumors and more bad news. Many of us got hooked to an ABC nightly hostage show that ended up being Nightline.
The low point was April 24, 1980:
On April 24, 1980, an ill-fated military operation to rescue the 52 American hostages held in Tehran ends with eight U.S. servicemen dead and no hostages rescued.With the Iran Hostage Crisis stretching into its sixth month and all diplomatic appeals to the Iranian government ending in failure, President Jimmy Carter ordered the military mission as a last ditch attempt to save the hostages. During the operation, three of eight helicopters failed, crippling the crucial airborne plans. The mission was then canceled at the staging area in Iran, but during the withdrawal one of the retreating helicopters collided with one of six C-130 transport planes, killing eight soldiers and injuring five. The next day, a somber Jimmy Carter gave a press conference in which he took full responsibility for the tragedy. The hostages were not released for another 270 days.
What a horrible morning.
As I recall, the failed mission did not become a big issue in the campaign. I recall then-governor Reagan holding his fire and simply expressing sympathies for the soldiers. Democrat challenger Senator Ted Kennedy did not say much, either.
There were many bad mornings in the Carter presidency. This one was one of the worst!