Thirteenth “WestPac” and first Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea deployment (Operation Evening Light and Eagle Claw during the Iranian revolution & Iran hostage crisis (Iran History, Air Arm) and Cheju-Do Islands in the Sea of Japan on the way home via Korea), operating with other Aircraft Carriers and upon completion conducted training operations and Carrier Qualifications (Iran History, Air Arm, Iranian revolution & Iran hostage crisis

(13 November 1979 to 30 June 1980)

CHAPTER XXXIV

Part 1 – (13 to 30 November 1979)

Part 2 – (1 to 31 December 1979)

Part 3 – (1 to 31 January 1980)

Part 4 – (1 to 24 February 1980)

Part 5 – (25 February to 20 April 1980)

Part 6 – (21 to 24 April 1980)

Part 7 – (25 April to 30 June 1980)

 

Iran hostage crisis Continues

 

      “As the Iranian hostage crisis drags into its second year, 52 Americans are still held captive by the new regime in Tehran, with no resolution in sight. President Carter's threats and sanctions fail to bring them home, and in April 1980 the administration calls on the military” (Ref. 386).

 

Gonzos I and II

 

    Gonzos I and II pitted elements of the battle group in two-day multiple threat scenarios against each other from March to April 1980” (Ref. 372A).

 

    President Carter, Joint Chiefs and Commanders in the field were convinced the hostages could be rescued without going to war with Iran.

 

     The author of this book, EQNEEDF would like to know how that decision came about?

 

      “KFMB TV-8 does feature on "Le Cafe USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) on 20 April 1980” (Ref. 331B-1980).

 

Operation Evening Light in support of the top-secret mission

Operation Eagle Claw

 

 

    USS Coral Sea (CV-43) with CVW-14 Air Wing and COMCARGROUP THREE, Rear Admiral L. C. Chambers embarked, was on "GONZO" Station in the North Arabian Sea and at sea 87 continuous days (29 January to 24 April 1980), when Operation Evening Light in support of the top-secret mission Operation Eagle Claw began at about dawn on 24 April 1980, in connection with the Iranian crisis, operating along side USS Nimitz (CVN-68), with her air wing, while the Nimitz launched eight helicopters sailing in the Arabian Sea off the southeast Coast of Iran for there 600-mle flight to Desert One, the attempt to rescue 52 U.S. Embassy American diplomats held hostage in Tehra,n Iran” (Ref. 4 & 72).

 

    “Joined up with the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and her escort ships, USS Coral Sea (CV-43) with RADM L. C. Chambers, COMCARGRU / CTG 70.3, Chief of Staff, Captain MING ERH CHANG and staff on board, was ready to do her part in world affairs along with Coral Sea escort ships and the Naval Task Force” (Ref. 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard Brochure/March 1980-Vol 8; No. 2).

 

Operation Eagle Claw

 

USS Coral Sea (CV-43) and her Task Group

 

Chapter XXXIV

Appendix III

 

 

    “Operation Eagle Claw (Operation Evening Light or Operation Rice Bowl), the attempt to rescue the US Embassy workers being held hostage in Tehran, Iran, 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, launched from USS Nimitz (CVN-68) flight deck to rescue the hostages held by the Iranians from 24 to 25 April 1980, while USS Coral Sea (CV-43) aircraft supported aircraft from Nimitz. As hundreds of men of the ship’s company cheered and gave them “thumbs’ up” signs, eight Sikorsky RH-53D Sea Stallions took off for Desert One, a pre-selected refueling site in the Iranian desert, a distance of almost 600 nautical miles, to load a 120 man Army assault team and proceed to two additional sites. Six Lockheed C-130 Hercules with the ground rescue forces flew on a different track and time schedule from al Masirah Island, Oman, to Desert One. Helicopter No. 6 experienced a mechanical malfunction approximately two hours into the operation and was forced to come about. A haboob, a huge dust cloud, slammed into the formation barely an hour later. The helo crews resolutely broke out of it and continued, but encountered a second larger haboob almost immediately. Helicopter No. 5 suffered a “critical” failure and returned to Nimitz. Helicopter No. 2 suffered multiple mechanical failures while en route, though the crew chose to continue to Desert One to effect repairs, which subsequently proved impossible without facilities and parts” (Ref. 372A-ADM Hayward told the crew during their time in the Gulf.- the only evidence Nimitz was in the Gulf of Oman & 1200).

 

Units known to have participated: Ref. 1200

 

U.S. Air Force

 

· 1st Special Operations Wing: 8th (EC-130), and 16th Special Operations Squadrons (AC-130)

· 18th Tactical Fighter Wing: 1st Special Operations Squadron (MC-130)

· SF-121 personnel involved (1 per aircraft) are still classified.

· RED HORSE units, and numerous support organizations

· 1st Combat Communications Squadron

 

U.S. Army

 

· 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta ("Delta Force"), including Col. Charlie Beckwith, Maj. Peter Schoomaker, Maj. William G. Boykin, and MSG Eric L. Haney

· 75th Ranger Regiment

· Special Forces (United States Army) 39th Special Forces Detachment (Airborne)

 

235th Signal Detachment (TACSAT) (Wadi Qena)

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps

 

· USS Nimitz (CVN-68) with Carrier Air Wing 8 and escorts (USS California (CGN-36), USS South Carolina (CGN-37), USS Texas (CGN-39) and USS Reeves (CG-24))

· USS Wichita (AOR-1)

· USS Coral Sea (CV-43) and escorts, USS William H. Standley (CG-32), USS Cook (FF-1083), USS Roanoke (AOR-7),[17][18] with Carrier Air Wing 14

· USS Okinawa (LPH-3)

· USS St. Louis (LKA-116), USS San Bernardino (LST-1189) Amphibious Support.

· Marine Aviation Weapons Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1)

· Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 16 (HM-16) aboard Nimitz

· Patrol Squadron 16 (VP-16)

 

File:Operation eagle claw desert one.png

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Operation_eagle_claw_desert_one.png

 

Oration Eagle claw – Mission to Rescue Hostages

 

Planning a Mission

 

    “Teheran is well inside Iran and away from friendly countries. The hostages were not held at an airport as in Israel's four years earlier Entebbe raid. Good intelligence was hard to come by about forces inside the embassy and in Teheran. And of course, all the planning and training had to be carried out in complete secrecy” (Ref. 11).

 

    “American diplomatic efforts to release the hostages were thwarted by Khomeni supporters. At the same time, Pentagon planners began examining rescue option.

 

    Initially, the preferred solution was the infiltration of the force by trucks from Turkish territory but this plan was rejected due political disadvantages and the risk of a great number of casualties made to discard the possibility of a night paratrooper’s assault so the choice fell again, after all, on the use of helicopters” (Ref. 11).

 

    “For planners, the situation was bleak. Intelligence information was difficult to get. The hostages were heavily guarded in the massive embassy compound. Logistically, Tehran was a city crammed with 4 million people, yet it was very isolated -- surrounded by about 700 miles of desert and mountains in every direction. There was no easy way to get a rescue team into the embassy” (Ref. 4).

 

    “Another scenario was parachuting an elite Army Special Forces team in. The team would fight its way in and out of the embassy, rescuing the hostages along the way. That plan was deemed suicide.

 

    After realizing there was no infrastructure or support for a quick strike, planners started mapping out a long-range, multifaceted rescue” (Ref. 4).

 

    “By December 1979, a rescue force was selected and a training program was under way.

 

    The top-secret mission was called Operation Eagle Claw.

 

    Training exercises were conducted through March 1980 and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) approved mission execution on 16 April 1980.

 

   Between 19 and 23 April, the forces deployed to Southwest Asia.

 

   What was ultimately decided on was an audacious plan involving all four US armed forces services.

 

    What emerged was a complex, two-night operation. An Army rescue team would be brought into Iran” (Ref. 11).

 

    “Operation Evening Light in support of the top-secret mission Operation Eagle Claw began at about dawn on April 24, 1980, when eight helicopters were launched from the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) sailing in the Arabian Sea off the southeast Coast of Iran” (Ref. 4).

 

The Hostage Rescue Attempt in Iran, April 24-25, 1980


U. S. Navy, HM-16, and the U.S.S. Nimitz in the Arabian Sea

 

 

    “The RH-53D helicopter that was chosen for Operation Evening Light and Operation Eagle Claw had extra fuel tanks on the landing gear pylons, extending the range. Right away, when the rescue attempt was planned, arrangements were made to have 8 of these aircraft sent to the Indian Ocean, to be loaded on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).

 

    HM-16 provided the eight helicopters for Operation Eagle Claw and was on duty until 19 May 1980 when the squadron returned to Norfolk, Virginia, after an unprecedented 193 days continuous at sea.

 

    Three MC-130E Combat Talon’s "Hercs" would leave Masirah Island, Oman on the evening of 24 April 1980, and fly to a barren spot in the desert of Iran, known as Delta One staging area, several hundred miles southeast of Tehran and offload the Delta force men, Combat Controllers, and translators/truck drivers.

 

    Once on the ground, the rescue team would board the Navy RH-53's of HM-16 USMC crews flying in from USS Nimitz (CVN-68) having flown off the carrier at dawn April 24, 1980” (Ref. 4).

 

    “Three EC-130's following the Combat Talon's would then land and prepare to refuel the Navy RH-53D's with USMC crews of HM-16 flying in from USS Nimitz (CVN-68)” (Ref. 11).

 

    “Once the helicopters were refueled, they would fly the task force forward to meet up with agents already in-country, and hide briefly near the U.S. embassy, aided by several Iranians who had been hired by the CIA, awaiting the assault the next night” (Ref. 4).

 

    “The helicopters would then fly to areas about 50 miles outside Tehran and hide until called by the Delta operators” (Ref. 4 & 11).

 

    “The operation required a total of 12 USAF planes (4 special ops MC-130E Combat Talon, 3 command post EC-130E Commando Solo, 3 gunships AC-130 Spectre, and 2 cargo C-141 Starlifter), and F-14A Tomcat’s, A-6E Intruder’s and A-7E Corsair’s, supplied by the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and USS Coral Sea (CV-43) in the Arabian Sea to provide air support.

 

    On the second night, the MC-130's and EC-130's would again fly into the country, this time with 100 U.S. Army Rangers troops, and head for Manzariyeh Air Base, about 40 miles southeast of Tehran. The Army Rangers were to assault the field and hold it so that the two C-141's could land to ferry the hostages back home.

 

    AC-130H Spectre gun ships would be over the embassy and the airfield to "fix" any problems encountered, providing cover for the rangers at Manzariyeh, support Delta's assault, and to suppress any attempts at action by the Iranian Air Force from nearby Mehrabad Airbase” (Ref. 4).

 

   “American intelligence agents would escort the Delta team to the embassy in trucks were they were to storm the American embassy, kill whoever tried to stop them, and free the hostages. There, the raiders were to board trucks with the freed prisoners for a further 50-mile trip into Tehran, then rendezvous with the Navy’s RH-53's of HM-16 USMC crews hiding out until ordered to a nearby football stadium.

 

    They and the hostages would be flown to Manzariyeh Airfield and the waiting C-141's would fly out of the country. All the aircraft but the eight helicopters would be flown back; the helicopters would be destroyed before leaving” (Ref. 4 & 11).

 

    “Secrecy and surprise were critical to the plan. The entire mission would be done at night, and surprise was the Army shooters' greatest advantage. It was an ambitious plan; some say too ambitious. "This mission required a lot of things we had never done before," said retired Col. (then-Capt.) Bob Brenci, the lead C-130 pilot on the mission. "We were literally making it up as we went along."

 

    Flying using night-vision goggles was almost unheard of. There was no capability, or for that matter, a need, to refuel helicopters at remote, inaccessible landing zones. All these skills and procedures would be tested and honed for this mission. "These capabilities are routine now for special operators, but at the time we were right there on the edge of the envelope," said retired Col. (then-Capt.) George Ferkes, Brenci's co-pilot. The aircrews weren't the only ones pushing the envelope. Airman First Class Jessie Rowe was a fuels specialist at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., when he got a late night call to pack his bags and show up at the Tampa International Airport. He met his boss, Tech. Sgt. Bill Jerome, and the pair flew to Arizona. They were now a part of Eagle Claw. Their job? Devise a self-contained refueling system the C-130s could carry into the desert to refuel the helicopters at the forward staging area.

 

    "No one told us why," said Rowe, who's now a major at Hurlburt Field and one of just two operation participants still on active duty. "But, you didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. "We begged, borrowed and stole the stuff we needed to make it work," he said. "We got it done. In less than a month, we had a working system." The Eagle Claw players were spread out, training around the world. The Hurlburt crews spent most of their time training in Florida and the southwestern United States. The pieces were coming together. At the same time, negotiations to free the hostages continued to go nowhere. By the time April 1980 rolled around, the Eagle Claw team had been practicing individually, and together, for five months. The aircrews averaged about 1,000 flying hours in that time. In comparison, a typical C-130 crew dog would take three years to log 1,000 hours” (Ref. 9).

 

Desert One Map

 

 

It’s Showtime

 

    “A month before the assault a CIA Twin Otter had flown to Desert One. A USAF Combat Controller had ridden around the landing area on a light dirt bike and planted landing lights to help guide the force in.

 

    "We were chomping at the bit," Brenci said.” We just wanted to go and do it."

 

    After a long training mission in Arizona and a flight to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to pick up parts, Col. J.V.O. Weaver (a captain then) and his crew, returned to Hurlburt Field to an unusual sight.

 

    "We rolled in and noticed the maintenance guys were on the line painting all the birds flat black," Weaver said. "They painted everything. Tail numbers, markings. Everything."

 

    The plan was moving forward. Less than a day later, six C-130s quietly departed Florida bound for Wadi Kena, Egypt. The president hadn't pulled the trigger yet, but the hammer was cocked on the operation.

 

    The Army and Air Force troops were in Egypt awaiting orders. The Marines and sailors, the helicopter contingent, were aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) afloat in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran” (Ref. 11).

 

    “The Persian Gulf, also known as the Arabian Gulf, is a 600-mile-long body of water which separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, and one of the most strategic waterways in the world due to its importance in world oil transportation. At its narrowest point (the Strait of Hormuz), the Gulf narrows to only 34 miles wide” (Ref. 450).

 

    "I remember we ate C-rats (the predecessor to MREs) for days and then one morning a truck rolls up, and we're served a hot breakfast," Rowe said. "Light bulbs went on in everyone's minds."

 

    The hot breakfast was a precursor to a briefing and pep talk from Army Maj. Gen. James Vaught, the Joint Task Force commander for Eagle Claw. The mission was a go.

 

    "Everyone was pumped up," said retired Chief Master Sgt. Taco Sanchez (then a staff sergeant). "Arms were in the air. We were ready!"

 

    “Next stop, Masirah, a tiny island off the coast of Oman. To say this air patch was desolate would be kind. It was a couple of tents and a blacktop strip. It was the final staging area -- the last stop before launching” (Ref. 11).

 

    Not knowing how the Iranian Pilots would conduct themselves in the air in the case of a battle, weighed heavy on the minds of everyone associated with Operation Evening Light in support of Operation Eagle Claw on board both USS Coral Sea (CV-43) and the USS Nimitz (CVN-68). Aircraft from both carriers were armed and stood ready to execute several contingency cover and strike operations in support of aircraft on the ground and in their exit from Iranian air space. On board both carriers in Combat Information Center everyone knew when the first MC-130E Combat Talon’s "Hercs" lifted off from Masirah. The “Hercs” would have to fly in without being detected and the eight helo’s needed for the mission would soon follow” (Ref. 43).

 

Iran History

 

      “The U.S.-trained Iranian Imperial Air Force was widely regarded as second only to Israel's in the Middle East—more than a match for Iraq and a serious adversary for even the Soviet Union. The Khomeini regime, however, regarded it as a waste of money that rightfully belonged to the mostazafin (poor oppressed masses).

 

       After Khomeini seized power on 11 February 1979, one of the new government's first acts was a purge of the armed forces, particularly the officer corps, which was (probably correctly) thought to be a hotbed of monarchist sentiment. The Air Force, where virtually the entire fighting element—the combat pilots—is composed of officers, was especially hard hit. To make matters worse, Iran's best combat pilots had been trained in the United States and Israel, making them particularly suspect” (Ref. 24).

 

 

    “Just before sunset on April 24, 1980, Brenci's MC-130 took off from Masirah Island, Oman toward Desert One. The die was cast. Brenci's crew would be the first to touch down in Iran.

 

    They carried the Air Force combat control team and Army Col. Charlie Beckwith's Commandos (Force combat control team) were on board Brenci's MC-130, as was Col. James Kyle, the on-scene commander at Desert One and one of the lead planners for the operation. The other 5 Hercs left Masirah Island, Oman after dark, and eight RH-53D helicopters departed the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in the Arabian Sea. Both formations headed for the location code-named Desert One” (Ref. 11).

 

    It was a four-hour flight. Plenty of time to contemplate what they were attempting.

Beckwith would lead the rescue mission into the embassy. "We just tried to stay busy," Sanchez said. "We were in enemy territory now. The pucker factor was pretty high."

 

    The first challenge would be to find the makeshift landing strip. Only 21 days earlier, Maj. John Carney, a combat controller, had flown a covert mission into Iran with the CIA to set up an infrared landing zone at Desert One. Carney was perched over Brenci's shoulder as the C-130 neared the landing site.

 

    The lights he had burled in the desert would be turned on via remote control from the C-130's flight deck. The question was would they work?

 

    Brenci was a couple miles out when in slow succession a "diamond-and-one" pattern appeared through his night-vision goggles. The bird touched down in the powdery silt, and the troops went to work” (Ref. 9).

 

     “That insertion went well, with no contact, and the pilots reported that their sensors had picked up some radar signals at 3,000 feet but nothing below that. Shortly after the lead C-130 landed, a bus came by on a dirt road.  Its driver and about 40 passengers were held until the Americans left” (Ref. 11)

 

The activity of CIC onboard USS Coral Sea (CV-43) and USS Nimitz (CVN-65) April 24, 1980 was fast and furious

 

    As the Operations Department Yeoman, Petty Officer Third Class Bruce Wayne Henion duties were vast and although temporarily assigned to Commander Carrier Group Three, Henion was expected to continue with regular duties. In the words of Petty Officer Henion, “I received a call from the admiral’s staff while I was typing a message in the Operations Department Office just before dawn on April 24.

 

    We were not yet at General Quarters and it was early in the morning. During the time we were on “GONZO” station, I was lucky to get 4-hours sleep a day. Staying up was normal and this morning was like any other morning with the exception that my General Quarters station would change.

 

    My duties normally during General Quarters was Repair 7 Forward Damage Control Team (forward 02 level hose team) yet temporarily assigned to Commander Carrier Group Three, the Admiral wanted me to manage all incoming/out going messages in Combat Information Center (CIC). As a Yeoman Third Class Petty Officer my duties were unusual to say the least, yet my performance had already been tested.

 

    Understanding your enemy and its abilities means everything in a battle, especially when your enemy once was your partner in the skies for 30-years.”

 

    “Sailing in the Arabian Sea off the southeast Coast of Iran, Coral Sea and USS Nimitz (CVN-68) were actively engaged in Operation Evening Light in support of Operation Eagle Claw commencing at about dawn on 24 April 1980, when eight helicopters were launched from the Nimitz sailing in the Arabian Sea off the southeast Coast of Iran for there 600-mle flight to Desert One” (Ref. 4).

 

    “When the choppers needed for the mission, eight total, left the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), Combat Information Center (CIC) was extremely active. The RH-53's were supposed to fly formation, low level, to the meet area. Because of the demands of the mission, at least six helicopters were needed at Desert One for the mission to go forward” (Ref. 11).

 

 

The RH-53D helicopter that was chosen for Operation Evening Light and Operation Eagle Claw had extra fuel tanks on the landing gear pylons, extending the range to Desert One ready for take off embarked USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

 

 

The RH-53D helicopter that was chosen for Operation Evening Light and Operation Eagle Claw had extra fuel tanks on the landing gear pylons, extending the range to Desert One ready for take off embarked USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

 

 

The RH-53D helicopter that was chosen for Operation Evening Light and Operation Eagle Claw had extra fuel tanks on the landing gear pylons, extending the range to Desert One ready for take off embarked USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

 

    “Weather for the mission was supposed to be clear. Further inland, the Marine helo pilots met their own private hell. The helicopter pilots were told to fly at or below 200 feet to avoid radar.

 

    This limitation caused them to run into what is known in the Dasht-e-Kavir, Iran's Great Salt Desert, as a "haboob", or dust storm, that they could not fly over without breaking the 200-foot limit.

 

    Two hours into the flight, two helicopters lost sight of the task force and landed, out of action. Another had landed earlier when a warning light had come on.

 

Their crew had been picked up but the aircraft that had stopped to retrieve them was now 20 minutes behind the rest of the formation.

 

    Battling dust storms and heavy winds, the RH-53's continued to make their way to Desert One. After receiving word that the EC-130's and fuel had arrived, the two aircraft that had landed earlier started up again and resumed their flight to the rendezvous. But then another helicopter had a malfunction and the pilot and Marine commander decided to turn back, halfway to the site. The task force was down to six helicopters, the bare minimum needed to pull off the rescue.

 

    The first group of three helicopters arrived at Desert One an hour late, with the rest appearing 15 minutes later” (Ref. 11).

 

    “At Desert One, all the C-130s had landed and were taxied into place. They were waiting for the choppers.

 

    We weren't on the ground that long, but my God, it felt like an eternity waiting for the helos,” Beyers recalled. The first two helicopters to roll in pulled up to Beyer's aircraft to be refueled. When the sixth chopper showed, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

 

    The Army troops boarded the helicopters. The fuels guys did their magic. Everything was good. Then word spread” (Ref. 9).

 

    “The rescue attempt had been dealt its final blow when it was learned that one of the aircraft had lost its primary hydraulic system and was unsafe to use fully loaded for the assault. Only five aircraft were serviceable and six needed, so the mission was aborted. One of the helicopters had a hydraulic failure. Game over” (Ref. 11).

 

    “Of great concern before and during the mission was what to do if the IIRA gets wind of Operation Eagle Claw, while secret operations were being conducted and next day operations would surely alert Iran’s Air Force of not only the location of Coral Sea and Nimitz but Desert One and Manzariyeh Air Base where first and second day operations of Eagle Claw were underway and to occur upon completion of mission.

 

    When Desert One staging area was no longer a secret, and while our planes were still on the desert floor, the Iranians begin an air campaign headed strait for our position at Desert One. Planes were launched from USS Coral Sea (CV-43) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68), until nearly every aircraft was in the sky over the desert. As previously stated, the Coral Sea alone had two fighter squadrons of F-4N's (Phantom II).

 

    While in CIC I observed first hand how close our nation came to a possible war with Iran.

 

    Combat Information Center Air Traffic Control Scopes captivated everyone's attention, as we witnessed an estimated 75-aircraft coming straight for the assault force.

 

    The Iranians had launched their entire Air Force stationed at the Tehran Air Force Base. Between both Carriers, an estimated 160 aircraft were launched, headed straight for the Iranian Aircraft. You could see the aircraft on the Air Traffic Control Scopes.

 

    A couple of seconds after the aircraft merged you could see three dots headed in the direction of the Tehran Air Force Base. Had either side fired at each other, the out come may have been much different.

 

    I new then, the full striking force of our planes made a big difference. The Iranian pilots wanted no part of an air battle with U. S. Naval and Marine fighter pilots.

 

    Had there been an air battle USS Nimitz (CVN-65) F 16’s and A-6F’s complimenting USS Coral Sea (CV-43) F-4N Phantom’s would have battled each other and pilots skills would have determined the outcome of dogfights in the air.

 

    The Iran Air Force was well trained and with almost 223 operational Phantoms, as a part of the Shah's plan to modernize the Imperial Iranian Air Force, IIAF was capable of destroying a great number of planes launched from both Coral Sea and Nimitz. Attachment two of this Chapter reports in detail Iran IIAF aircraft at the time

 

    “Contrary to Western reports, F-4 squadrons managed to maintain their combat effectiveness despite widespread political upheavals and personnel purges. Technical malfunctions, often appearing during flight preparation, would reduce the flight packages, but missions were seldom aborted for this reason” (Ref. 18). 

 

    “An air war was the last thing the U.S. needed or wanted.

 

    Pilots of the USAF and IIAF had been working together for a period of 22-years, having established friendships with each other over the years with the exception of those Pilots who the Khomeini discharged, killed or exiled because of loyalties to the Shah.

 

    An Air Battle between USMC and Navy Pilots with the IIAF was the last thing either air force wanted.

 

    I truly believe a level of respect each air force had for one another’s capabilities was the under lining factor no shots were fired by either side” (Ref. 9).

 

Operation Eagle Claw was canceled

 

    “Beckwith needed six helicopters. Kyle, the on-scene commander, aborted the mission. "It was crushing," Rowe said. "We had come all that way, spent all that time practicing, and now we had to turn back."

 

    The decision made, now the crews had to evacuate the Iranian dust patch. Time was a factor. The C-130s were running low on fuel. Sunrise was fast approaching, and the team didn't want to be caught on the ground by Iranian troops. Members had already detained a civilian bus with 40-plus passengers and were forced to blow up a fuel truck, which wouldn't stop for a roadblock.

 

    They had worn out their welcome. Dejected and disappointed, they just wanted to button up and go home. Beyers' aircraft, flown by Capt. Hal Lewis, was critically low on fuel. But, before it could depart, the helicopter behind the aircraft had to be moved” (Ref. 9).

 

Operation Eagle Claw tragedy after mission was canceled

 

    "We had just taken the head count," recalled Beyers. They had 44 Army troops on board. Beyers was on the flight deck behind Lewis' seat. "We got permission to taxi and then everything just lit up."

 

    A fireball engulfed the C-130. According to witnesses, the helicopter lifted off, kicked up a blinding dust cloud, and then banked toward the Herc.

 

    Its rotor blades sliced through the Herc's main stabilizer. The chopper rolled over the top of the aircraft, gushing fuel and fire as it tumbled” (Ref. 9).

 

    “It was dark and his rotors kicked up an immense dust cloud, making it difficult to see when the pilot took off” (Ref. 11).

 

    “Fire engulfed the plane. Training kicked in. The flight deck crew began shutdown procedures. The fire was 0utside the plane. Beyers headed down the steps toward the crew door. That's when someone opened the escape hatch on top of the aircraft in the cockpit, Beyers said. Boom. Black out.

 

    Tech. Sgt. Ken Bancroft, one of three loadmasters on the airplane, knew he had troops to get off the plane. He went to the left troop door. Fire. Right troop door. Jammed shut.

 

    "I don't know how I got that door off," Bancroft said. He did. One after another, this hulk of a man tossed the Army troops off the burning plane like a crazed baggage handler unloading a jumbo jet.

 

    Beyers had been knocked out. The flight deck door had hit him on the head as he went down the steps. When he came to, he was on fire. Conscious again, he crawled toward the rear of the plane.

 

    "I made it halfway," Beyers said. "I quit. I knew I was dead." Somehow he moved himself closer to the door. Then he saw two figures appear through the flames. Two Army troopers had come back for him. He was alive, but in bad shape.

 

    Beyers always had the bad habit of rolling up his flight suit sleeves. He finally paid the price. His arms, from the elbows down, were terribly burned.

 

    His hands were charred. Hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, gone. Worse were the internal injuries. His lungs, mouth and throat were burned. Yet, he clung to life.

 

    The desert scene was one of organized chaos. Failure had turned to tragedy. "I knew they were dead," Bancroft said of his crewmates in the front of the plane. "I looked up there, and it was just a wall of fire. There was nothing I could do.

 

    The C-130 was evacuated and the order came to blow the aircraft and infiltrate the country. “The last plane left Desert One a half hour after the accident. Beyer was on that airplane.

 

    "The accident was a calamity heaped on despair. It was devastating," wrote Kyle in his book called "The Guts to Try."

 

    "The C-130 crews and combat controllers had not failed in any part of the operation and had a right to be proud of what they accomplished," Kyle said.

 

    "They inserted the rescue team into Iran on schedule, set up the refueling zone, and gassed up the helicopters when they finally arrived.

 

    Then, when things went sour, they saved the day with an emergency evacuation by some incredibly skillful flying. They had gotten the forces Out of Iran to fight another day -- a fact they can always look back on with pride"” (Ref. 9).

 

    “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 and top secret plans fell into the hands of the Iranians the next day and the agents waiting in-country to help the Delta operators were almost captured.

 

    “Pride and sorrow are the two mixed emotions most participants share. Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, Chief of Naval Operations, in a video message to USS Nimitz (CVN-68), USS California (CGN-36) and USS Texas (CGN-39) during their transit home from the Indian Ocean:

 

    "A few days ago the President made a very courageous decision as he ordered us to execute the rescue operation as we tried to free our Americans held hostage in Teheran.

 

    It was not a risk-free operation-there is no such thing as a risk-free operation..... we all shared considerable disappointment that we were not successful.

 

   But let's not be despondent about that. Our job is now to remain alert, to look for those opportunities, times when we can bring our Americans out. Our job is to stay ready” (Ref. 11).

 

    “"We were the ultimate embarrassment," Sanchez said.” Militarily we did some astounding things, but ultimately we failed America.

 

    I'm proud of what we accomplished. I was 27 years old, and when I think about that mission it still sends shivers down my spine."

 

    Sanchez's words capture the essence of every man on the mission. They were a brave, courageous group of men, attempting the impossible, for a noble and worthy cause.

 

    They came up short and have lived 21 years with the demons, or gremlins, that sabotaged their mission of mercy.

 

    "They tried, and that was important," said Col. Thomas Schaefer, the U.S. Embassy defense attaché and one of the hostages. "It's tragic eight men died, but its important America had the courage to attempt the rescue.”

 

    Even having lived so long with the horrible outcome of that mission, Beyers never doubts his choice to take part.

 

    "We do things other people can't do," he said. "We would rather get killed than fail. It was an accident. But, I have no doubt, had the Army guys gotten in there, we would've succeeded."

 

    Eight men died during the aborted attempt to rescue American hostages held captive in Iran. Five of them were airmen from the 8th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Three were Marine helicopter crewmen.

 

    "Take solace in the fact [that] what they did only a few could even attempt," said Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, the commander of Alaskan Command, at a 20th anniversary commemorative ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla. "What they did was keep the promise. They had the guts to try."

 

    Schwartz was a pilot in the 8th SOS at the time of the rescue mission and went on to command Hurlburt's 16th Special Operations Wing.

 

    Another special operator and now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Hugh Shelton, expressed similar sentiments during a speech at an April 2000 ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery honoring those killed.

 

    "The sheer audacity of the mission, the enormity of the task, the political situation at the time. When I reflect on the results -- both positive and negative -- I'm awed," Shelton said.

 

    "The very soul of any nation is its heroes. We are in the company of giants and in the shadow of eight true heroes," he said.

 

    Those heroes are Capt. Richard L. Bakke, 33; Capt. Harold J. Lewis, 35; Capt. Lyn D. McIntosh, 33; Capt. James T. McMillan II, 28; Tech. Sgt. Joel C. Mayo, 34; Marine Staff Sgt. Dewey L. Johnson, 31; Marine Sgt. John D. Harvey, 21; and Marine Cpl. George N. Holmes Jr., 22.

 

    The aftermath of the rescue operation was a barrage of investigations, congressional hearings and, believe it or not, more planning and training for a follow-on rescue mission.

 

    Members of the 8th SOS were involved in those plans. In fact, some of the same crewmembers that participated in Eagle Claw came back and started preparing for the follow-up mission.

 

    A memorial was placed at Arlington National Cemetery honoring the eight men killed. Subsequently, other tributes have been made remembering the men who died at Desert One.

 

    Hurlburt has dedicated streets in their honor. New Mexico's Holloman Air Force Base Airman Leadership School is named for Tech. Sgt. Joel Mayo, the C-130 flight engineer killed at Desert One” (Ref. 9- U.S. Air Force, Air Force News Agency COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group).

 

    “Survivors abandoned the scene, leaving the four remaining helicopters, with weapons, maps and a number of secret documents regarding the operation, and the dead bodies behind in the flaming wreckage. A few hours later, in the early morning, Carter went on national television to report to the American people on the disaster that had just occurred.

 

    The President behaved with great dignity; he made no excuses, sought no scapegoats, and accepted absolute personal responsibility” (Ref. 4).

 

    “April 25, 1980 -- A defining moment for President Jimmy Carter, for the American people and for America's military. At 7 a.m. a somber President Carter announces to the nation, and the world, that eight American servicemen are dead and several others are seriously injured, after a super-secret hostage rescue mission failed. Broadcast on ABC-TV” (Ref. 15-ABC).

 

    “Although initial reaction to the tragic mission was supportive of the President, the failure of the rescue attempt did more to undercut the Carter presidency than any other single event, even before this incident, the hostage crisis had become a political liability for the President.

 

    As details of the botched plan were revealed, it became another one of the many failures that Americans attributed to the President. There was little hope for another rescue mission, since Iran had put its guard up and dispersed the hostages to various locations in Tehran. The fiasco of the rescue mission, however, provided Carter a convenient moment to abandon his Rose Garden campaign in favor of a more public candidacy” (Ref. 4).

 

USS Constellation (CV-64) reached the eastern Indian Ocean on 24 April 1980

 

    USS Constellation (CV-64) reached the eastern Indian Ocean when the unsuccessful 24 April 1980 raid to free American hostages took place” (Ref. 1-Constellation & 72).

 

    Aircraft from CV-43 and CVN-68 escorted Iranian aircraft back to their Air Force Base once the rescue team was spotted on radar after an aircraft with Army troops exploited when the blades of a helicopter ripped through the fuselage, resulting in the loss of service members.

 

    As stated by Bob Doris "The hostage rescue mission had just ended and ended tragically for some of the rescue force.

 

    Keep in mind that there were two carrier task forces on station for this operation, us and the Nimitz. Of course the Nimitz was the show boat of the fleet so all the brass and media were on board her. No one wanted the old girl, the Coral Sea, to host all the hot shots. So there we were, mad as hell that our mission failed.

 

    All of a sudden a steady parade of S-3 Viking COD's start coming aboard. We also get an UNREP in the middle of all this. Well low and behold; pallets of beer are starting to pile up on the deck right next to the island. Woo Hoo! This must be our reward for flying non-stop for months and our part in the rescue mission, right? Wrong! That beer sat right there with someone assigned to watch it, probably a MARDET grunt. The next day, right under our noses, helicopters from the Nimitz start picking up the suds and flying it over to their ship.

 

    The party was on for the Nimitz boys and all the brass over there. We didn't get a drop! I actually worked with a guy that was on the Nimitz back then and he remembered the beer party and the fact that they were all laughing about how pissed the Coral Sea guys must have been. He of course agreed that he owed me a few beers.

 

FREEPER CANTEEN: THE HOSTAGE RESCUE ATTEMPT IN IRAN, APRIL 24/25, 1980

 

The Hostage Rescue Attempt ^ | 04/23/2008 | RaceBannon

Posted on 04/23/2008 5:54:26 PM PDT by RaceBannon

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2006063/posts

 

 

View of the "intercept" from the deck of the Coral Sea [Image Source - Bob Dorais]
http://www.usscoralsea.net/pages/cstories.html

 

    “Gonzos I and II pitted elements of the battle group in two-day multiple threat scenarios against each other from March to April 1980” (Ref. 372A).

 

    “USS Constellation (CV-64) reached the eastern Indian Ocean when the unsuccessful 24 April 1980 raid to free American hostages took place” (Ref. 1-Constellation & 72).

 

Thirteenth “WestPac” and first Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea deployment (Operation Evening Light and Eagle Claw during the Iranian revolution & Iran hostage crisis (Iran History, Air Arm) and Cheju-Do Islands in the Sea of Japan on the way home via Korea), operating with other Aircraft Carriers and upon completion conducted training operations and Carrier Qualifications (Iran History, Air Arm, Iranian revolution & Iran hostage crisis

(13 November 1979 to 30 June 1980)

CHAPTER XXXIV

Part 1 – (13 to 30 November 1979)

Part 2 – (1 to 31 December 1979)

Part 3 – (1 to 31 January 1980)

Part 4 – (1 to 24 February 1980)

Part 5 – (25 February to 20 April 1980)

Part 6 – (21 to 24 April 1980)

Part 7 – (25 April to 30 June 1980)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXXIV

Part 6 – (21 to 24 April 1980)

 USS CORAL SEA (CV 43)

Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw, A Sailors tale of his Tour of duty in the U.S. Navy (August 1977 to February 1983)

 

A Sailors tale of his Tour of duty in the U.S. Navy - Operation Evening Light And Eagle Claw -

 

Book - ISBN NO.

978-1-4276-0454-5

EBook - ISBN NO.

978-1-329-15473-5

 

Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw (24 April 1980) Iran and Air Arm History (1941 to Present)

 

Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw (24 April 1980) Iran and Air Arm History (1941 to Present)

 

Book ISBN NO.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

EBook ISBN NO.

978-1-329-19945-3

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA  Vol. I (10 July 1944 to 31 December 1975)

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA Vol. I (10 July 1944 to 31 December 1975) -

 

Book ISBN NO.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EBook ISBN NO.

978-1-329-54596-0

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA DURING HER TOUR OF SERVICE Vol. II (1 January 1976 to 25 August 1981)

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA DURING HER TOUR OF SERVICE Vol. II (1 January 1976 to 25 August 1981) -

 

Book ISBN NO.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EBook ISBN NO.

978-1-329-54790-2

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA DURING HER TOUR OF SERVICE Vol. III (20 August 1981 to 26 April 1990)

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA DURING HER TOUR OF SERVICE Vol. III (20 August 1981 to 26 April 1990) -

 

Book ISBN NO.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EBook ISBN NO.

978-1-329-55111-4