Thursday, April 12, 2012

Disaster in the Desert: Operation Eagle Claw

The plan for rescue was launched from the USS Nimitz which was off the coast of Iran. The plan was designed for eight helicopters to be used. On the way to the first rendezvous point, two helicopters aborted the mission because of sand storms. Another helicopter experienced problems with a hydraulic pump and crash landed at the rendezvous point. Replacement parts were on-board the aircraft that returned to the Nimitz. It had been determined that the mission would require at least six helicopters. Commanders requested to abort the mission and Carter granted approval.

The debacle did not end at this point. As the force attempted to leave, one of the helicopters crash landed on a C-130 transport plane, killing several servicemen. The resulting fire destroyed both aircraft and killed 8 servicemen. The rest of the force was able to return to the Nimitz.

President Carter went on television and explained to the American people what happened. It was a national embarrassment and further weakened Carter's Presidency. He would later claim the rescue failure caused his lost reelection bid.

The failure certainly cemented the ideas of Carter's poor leadership to the American people. Additionally, Republicans had been claiming that budget cuts was weakening the capabilities of the Armed Service following the Vietnam War. The debacle in the desert served to bolster these claims.

In response, the Iranians scattered the hostages to all four corners of Iran. Most were placed in jails.

In the above video, President Carter addresses the nation concerning the failure of Operation Eagle Claw.

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