Died when: 33 years 348 days
Star Sign: Taurus
Operation Eagle Claw, known as Operation Tabas (Persian: عملیات طبس) in Iran, was a United States Armed Forces operation ordered by U.S. President Jimmy Carter to attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 embassy staff held captive at the Embassy of the United States, Tehran on 24 April 1980. Its failure, and the humiliating public debacle that ensued, damaged U.S. prestige worldwide. Carter blamed his loss in the 1980 U.S. presidential election mainly on his failure to secure the release of the hostages. The operation, one of Delta Force's first, 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 was caught in a sand storm, and another showed signs of a cracked rotor blade. During the operation's planning it was decided that the mission would be aborted if fewer than six helicopters remained operational, despite only four being absolutely necessary. In a move that is still discussed in military circles, the field commanders advised President Carter to abort the mission, which he did. As the U.S. force prepared to withdraw, 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. In the context of the Iranian Revolution, Iran's new leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, used the failed operation as a propaganda tool. He claimed that the mission had been stopped by an act of God ("angels of God") who foiled the U.S. mission in order to protect Iran and his new conservative theocratic government.