by Paul Evancoe
On November 4, 1979, a group of between 300 to 500 Islamist militants and students took over the American embassy in Tehran as a show of support for the Iranian Revolution. During this early morning non-violent attack, they took 52 American diplomats and embassy staff hostage. After several failed attempts to negotiate their release over the following several months, President Jimmy Carter authorized the planning for a secret military rescue mission, code named Operation Eagle Claw.
Detailed intelligence of the embassy’s precise physical condition and whereabouts of the 52 American hostages was essential. Working in deep cover and posing as European businessmen, a small, elite team of American servicemen, who were all fluent Farsi speakers, infiltrated Tehran. Their task was to surveil the American embassy, gather detailed human intelligence on the ingress and egress routes to and from the embassy and potential landing zones, and rent and pre-stage vehicles at key locations in preparation of the rescue.