Operation Eagle Claw

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The wreckage of a Sea Stallion helicopter at the Desert One base in Iran

Operation Eagle Claw (or Operation Evening Light) was a United States military operation to rescue the 53 hostages from the U.S. embassy in Teheran, Iran on April 24, 1980. The operation was a failure, and had a severe impact on US President Jimmy Carter's re-election prospects; on a military level, it led to the creation of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the Night Stalkers).

The hostages were released via diplomatic negotiations after 444 days of captivity.


General information

Planned as Operation Rice Bowl, the operation was designed as a complex two-night mission. The first stage of the mission involved establishing a small staging site inside Iran itself, near Tabas in the Yazd Province (formerly in the south of the Khorasan province) of Iran. Desert One was to be used as a temporary airstrip for the C-130 Hercules transport planes and modified RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters which would undertake the actual rescue operation. After locating and extracting the hostages from Teheran, the rescue would be transported by helicopter to Manzariyeh Air Base outside of Teheran, in order to evacuate them out of the country.

A combination of equipment failure and unforeseen low-level sandstorms caused the mission to be aborted, but only after men and equipment had been assembled at Desert One. After the helicopters had refueled, one drifted into an EC-130E Hercules while lifting off. In the ensuing explosion and fire, eight servicemen lost their lives; five USAF aircrew in the C-130, and three USMC aircrew in the RH-53D. During the ensuing evacuation, five RH-53D helicopters were left behind, intact, containing plans which identified CIA agents within Iran.

The failure of the various services to work together with cohesion forced the establishment of a new multi-service organization. The concept of USSOCOM was born and finally established; and placed into operation in the 1988-1989 time period. Each service subsequently now has its own Special Operations Forces under the overall control of USSOCOM. For example, the Army has its own Army Special Operations Command (ASOC) that controls the Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF).

A second rescue mission was planned under the name Operation Credible Sport but was never put into action.

The hostages were released after 444 days of captivity on January 20, 1981; the day that President Jimmy Carter left office.

Units involved in the operation (incomplete)

External links

  • [1] ( The first part of a series of articles on Kuro5hin entitled Modern Warfare: Space Operations, Operation Eagle Claw.
  • [2] ( A pictorial overview.
  • [3] ( Airman magazine's interviews with surviving participants.


  1. USAF College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education. Air & Power Course: Operation Eagle Claw ( United States of America: US Air Force.
  2. Personal account of the mission and Iranian history related to the Iran Hostage Crisis. [4] (
  3. Olausson, Lars, Lockheed Hercules Production List 1954-2005, Satenäs, Sweden, annually.
  4. Kyle, Colonel James H., USAF (Ret.), "The Guts to Try", Orion Books, New York, 1990, ISBN 0-517-57714-3.

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